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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 21 November, 2014

‘No decision yet’ on extra water charges for families

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, the Tánaiste stated that charges will apply above the free allowance, but their nature has not yet been decided.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore speaking this afternoon.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore speaking this afternoon.
Image: Screenshot via Oireachtas.ie

THE GOVERNMENT HAS yet to finalise what extra water charges will be applied outside of the free allowance, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, the Tánaiste said that ‘no decision’ has yet been made on whether families will be charged extra, as a report in today’s Irish Independent suggests.

“The story… is without basis”, he said, responding to questions from Fianna Fáil leaders Micheál Martin.

“The regulator has to set out what kind of charging, on an economic basis, is to be perused, and then based on what the regulator has said, the government will then make a decision as to the level of the free allowance”.

Irish Water bonuses

Martin also pressed the Tánaiste on the government’s previous knowledge of bonuses being paid within Irish Water.

The Tánaiste said that a government decision had been made to not pay bonuses to the chief executives of semi-state bodies.

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Michéal Martin this afternoon. (Image: Screenshot via Oireachtas.ie)

Yesterday Junior Minister Brian Hayes has said he cannot see any justification for the payment of bonuses to staff at Irish Water.

As many as 300 staff at Irish Water can be paid performance-based bonuses, an Oireachtas committee was told.

‘Insulting’

The question of transparecy at Irish Water was also called into question by the Fianna Fáil leader, who called it ‘insulting’ that the government insists all information is available.

“The only reason they are before the committee today is because [RTÉ Radio 1 presenter] Sean O’Rourke asked a question”, he said.

“The government was kept in the dark”, he added, and that ‘no one knows what to believe’.

A retort by the Tánaiste was met minutes of disorder in the chamber after he said that ‘Irish Water could have been founded three times over’ under consultancy fees incurred by Michael Martin during his time as Minister for Health.

HSE recruitment moratorium

He also addressed a query from Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn over the HSE recruitment moratorium.

The TD said that staff at Letterkenny General Hospital were performing ‘heroically’ in the face of widespread flood damage to the hospital, but that A&E services at the hospital were struggling through a shortage of staff.

However Gilmore responded that all staffing arrangements can be dealt with under conditions outlined by the Haddington Road Agreement and gave no date as to when the moratorium would be lifted.

Concerns raised by People Before Profit TD Joan Collins over cuts to grants affecting the disability and the elderly from living in their own home was met by the Tánaiste reiterating that extra allocations and increased funding had been made available in these areas to local authorities.

Collins described the cuts an ‘onslaught on fundamental humans rights’.

Read: How transparent is Irish Water? >

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