Speaking after the Government announced details of the water charges, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on the Environment Brian Stanley TD has once again reiterated his party’s continued opposition to domestic water charges and household metering. He accused the Government of merely moving figures around to protect Labour in the wake of the local elections.
Deputy Stanley said:
“Sinn Féin is entirely opposed to the introduction of domestic water charges. It is unjust, unfair and simply another cost to Irish taxpayers who have been burdened with the responsibility of paying back billions of euro of banking debt.
“People will in effect be paying three times for their water. Not only are water charges being levied but the Local Property Tax is going to provide €486 million in subvention to Irish Water instead of supporting local services as it was claimed. On top of that a considerable amount of money has already been given to the new entity from the Central Exchequer. This is outrageous.
“I also do not believe that the €240 average charge estimated by the government is plausible. It is suspiciously close to the €238 average charge that was contained in the Fine Gael manifesto, and opposed at the time by Labour, and I do not believe that it takes account of the actual costs of establishing and running the new entity.
“Fianna Fáil was to have introduced an average charge of between €400 and €500. That was arrived at by the troika and was based on the costs of administering the Irish water service, and the EU Water Directive which insists that all of the costs of water supply are recovered through charges.
“How then can the Government assure us that the average cost will be €240, including exemptions and allowances? Have they been granted a further derogation from the EU Directive?
“It is very likely that the waiver scheme will disappear after a few years just like it did with the bin charges. Workers on low incomes and the unemployed are among the categories of people who will not benefit from it.
“If the alleged 'relief' for people on social welfare is as reported then it will mean yet another bureaucratic barrier for struggling people to overcome. This government has continually targeted those who are most in need and this demonstrates once again that Labour have failed to act as the Fine Gael watchdog it promised it would be.
“The abolition of the standing charge doesn’t mean anything given that the Government have committed to collecting an extra €530 million from water charges. They will achieve this by charging a higher rate on the water used in excess of the free allowance given to householders.
“I fear that any apparent commitment on water charges is simply a fig leaf to hide Labour’s embarrassment at reneging on yet another election promise, and solely designed to get the Government parties over the coming elections.
“We have to wait until August for the true cost of water charges to be announced, conveniently after the local elections.”