Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on the Environment Brian Stanley TD has claimed that the Government is being dishonest regarding its claim that consumers will know what they will have to pay over the coming years in water charges.
He was speaking as the Cabinet continued to dither on announcing what rate water will be charged at and whether there will be a standing charge on top of that. He said that while they will attempt to delay the final figure until after the local elections, the fact is that the EU Water Directive may mean that they have no control over the rate to be charged.
Deputy Stanley said:
“While the two Government parties continue to differ over the average rate to be charged, and whether there will be a standing charge on top of that, I believe that they are being dishonest in claiming that Irish Water will be able to tell households how much they will be paying in water charges over the next few years.
“The Taoiseach has previously stated that Irish Water will be able to borrow on the open market to meet its running costs above what it will take in from its customers. It is my understanding that the derogation which the state received from the EU Water Framework Directive in 1997 – requiring that the user of water must pay for its recovery costs – will not apply to Irish Water.
“That will mean that Irish Water will have to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the water system through the water charges, and a possible standing charge. In that event the Government is in no position to be able to state what the overall cost to domestic users will be going forward. At current running costs it is estimated that the average household charge could be €560.
“The parties who have supported the creation of a new water entity – Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and Labour – must take full responsibility for the added burden to be placed on households.”