Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD has described claims by Taoiseach Enda Kenny that the top rate of income tax would have to rise by 4% if water charges did not go ahead as “utterly bogus”.

He commented: “The Taoiseach has made a truly bizarre and utterly bogus claim that without water charges the top rate of income tax would have to go up by 4%. As recently as last month, Revenue published a document on their website which showed a 1% increase in the top rate of tax would raise €233 million in a full year. By implication a 4% rise would yield €932 million. This is many multiples of the money that will be raised by domestic water charges as currently planned.  The Taoiseach is deliberately attempting to frighten people with misleading data. He is clearly panicked following yesterday’s marches and is seeking to deliberately confuse the debate.

“The Minister for the Environment previously told the Dáil that domestic water charges would raise a total of €300 million assuming full compliance. However, the Government has already been forced in to a series of concessions including a €100 payment to recipients of the household benefits package, the fuel allowance as well as a further tax credit. The combined cost of these is €105 million with further concessions now likely. These will reduce the net revenue from Irish Water to €150 million annually or less,” added Deputy Martin.

“The Government is attempting to claim that if water charges did not go ahead, all the costs associated with water provision would come back on the state’s books. Various figures have been bandied about to imply that the impact of this would be between €800 million and €1billion. However, when Fianna Fáil asked Michael Noonan a simple question as to what would be budget impact of bringing Irish Water fully back on the state books he could not provide a straight answer.

“However, he did confirm that €533 million paid from the local government fund to Irish water is “is already included in general government expenditure for 2015” and €230 million from commercial revenue will “will count as general government revenue off-setting an equal amount of general government expenditure.”

“The Taoiseach should withdraw this bogus threat and people’s concerns have to be addressed.”