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The Government plans to start refunding water charges from autumn

It is estimated that the refunds will cost in the region of €160 million.

Image: Shutterstock/Gts

THE GOVERNMENT INTENDS to begin refunding water charges by the autumn, with the majority to be repaid by the end of the year.

Government sources confirmed that repayment of water charges should begin before October’s Budget.

The confirmation comes following comments made by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in an interview with The Sunday Independent.

Varadkar said that the government was “gearing up” to begin refunding charges in autumn.

“I anticipate that everybody will have their money back before the end of the year,” he said.

Government sources confirmed this, saying that the majority of refunds should be processed by the end of the year. In relation to more complex cases the refunds may take longer than the end of the year.

It is unclear what money will go to refunding the charges, but Varadkar and Government sources have suggested that it may not come from Budget 2018 funds.

TheJournal.ie reported this week that officials are in negotiations with the European Commission for a special deal to pay around €160 million in water charge refunds.

The Government is asking the Commission if a “one-off” payment under European Union fiscal spending rules would be allowed.

The issue of water charges has dominated the headlines for the last number of years.

After more than 20 meetings on the issue, an Oireachtas committee agreed that those who have paid and those that have not paid should be treated equally.

With reporting from Christina Finn 

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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