Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has said that the Cabinet manoeuvring in recent weeks on the Water Tax issue had nothing to do with relieving the burden on vulnerable citizens but was all about the elections.
Saying that the new tax would impact on low and middle-income families he said Government media spin was a fig leaf to spare Labour Party blushes but that people were not stupid.
Speaking to the Taoiseach during Leaders Questions in the Dáil, Deputy Adams said:
“Let’s be clear, there is a Water Tax. It is Fianna Fáil policy and totally contrary to the stated policy of the Labour Party. It is the latest in a series of taxes which will impact most on low and middle-income families. It will be at least €240 each year. At least a million households will be forced to pay this Water Tax, despite having no meter.
“Those parties who supported the creation of Uisce Eireann/Irish Water –Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and Labour – must take full responsibility for the added tax burden that will now be placed on struggling households, on top of your Family Home Tax, Septic Tank Charges, Carbon Tax, and cuts to Child Benefit and the Carer’s Allowance.
“The media briefings and the statements from Minister Hogan, from Labour and from yourself could be presented as a modern version of Dean Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal’. But there’s nothing modest about your new tax and nothing eloquent or satirical. You are deadly serious.
“Do you think the people are stupid? Does Labour think that anyone is fooled by their claims? This Fine Gael/Labour government is far removed from the reality faced by hardworking families and vulnerable citizens. You cannot possibly think that this fig leaf will cover Labour’s blushes.
“Taoiseach, isn’t it the case that the Cabinet manoeuvring of recent weeks on this issue had nothing to do with relieving the burden on vulnerable citizens? Isn’t it very clear now that this was all about the elections and the public anger at the Government’s duplicity?
The Sinn Féin Leader said that the Taoiseach “may as well be standing here as naked as the day you were born, like the emperor thinking no-one notices”.
“And the Tanaiste? There he sits in the all-together. If it wasn’t so serious. But working people aren’t laughing today. They find nothing amusing about your Water Tax.
”Sinn Féin has consistently and resolutely opposed the imposition of a Water Tax on already hard-pressed families. We have prevented a Water Tax in the North and you could have done the same here.
“Your Government has been dishonest in claiming that Uisce Eireann/Irish Water can tell householders how much they will pay for water over the next few years. Your proposals only bring us up to 2016, just in time to celebrate the Easter Rising, at which point this Tax will increase. And you know that.
Mr Adams said all of this meant that the Government is in no position to state what the overall cost to domestic users will be and that it exposed the fact that the Government continues to mislead citizens on the Water Tax issue.