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Taoiseach's claim on water charges is bogus - Eoin Ó Broin TD

2 March, 2017 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on water Eoin Ó Broin TD  has described the Taoiseach's claim that scrapping water charges would be illegal, as "bogus". The Dublin Mid-West TD also said the debate surrounding the introduction of a charge for so-called excess use of water is a distraction from the real work of the water committee

Deputy Ó Broin said:

"Today Enda Kenny has claimed that the complete abolition of water charges would be illegal. His claim is bogus. Having lost the argument on the issue of water charges Fine Gael is now desperately trying to change the debate onto the issue of alleged household water wastage. Listening to Fine Gael spokespersons this week you would think half the country have swimming pools and the other half left their taps running twenty four hours a day.

"Just like Minister Coveney on Tuesday Enda Kenny is trying to influence the outcome of the Oireachtas Water Committee with inaccurate and un-substantiated claims about the legality of abolishing water charges and the need for a charge for water wastage.

"Neither Scotland nor the North of Ireland have domestic metered charges or a charge for excess use. Both of those jurisdictions are fully in compliance with EU water directives. If they can do that then so can we.

“There is simply no evidence that domestic water waste is an issue. According to Irish Water’s own data household water consumption in this state is one of the lowest in the OECD. Irish citizens use an average of 123 litres per person per day, compared to England where people use on average 140 litres. Other studies show that in Italy the average water consumption per person per day is 250 litres, while in Sweden its 200 litres. All of these countries apply metered domestic charges and yet people there use significantly more water than people in Ireland.

“The majority of water wasted in this state is due to leaking pipes and crumbling water infrastructure. Irish Water figures show that 47% percent of water is wasted through leaks in the public system. In Dublin City and in Cork City these figures are as high as 50% and 57% respectively. This is a result of years of chronic under investment by successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael led governments.

“€465 million has been spent on water metering to date and some 58% of households are metered. Charging for so-called excess use of water would require the continued roll-out of universal domestic metering. This would cost hundreds of millions of euro. This cost, combined with the annual cost of billing and pursuing people for the charge is not a good use of taxpayer money.

“It is Sinn Féin’s view that this money would be better spent fixing the leaks in the system or investing in the wastewater treatment plans that are currently in breach of the urban wastewater treatment directive which has landed the state in European Court of Justice.”

 “The truth is that any charge for water even a small charge to cover so-called excessive use could lead to domestic water charges being re-introduced in full. People must ask themselves do they really trust Fine Gael and or Fianna Fáil not to increase charges in the future?”

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