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Wednesday 29 November 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Hugh O'Connell via Cathal King at the count centre in Tallaght this lunchtime
Water wars

Dáil hopeful Cathal King admits Sinn Féin's policy on water charges 'confused' voters

The party’s Dublin South-West by-election candidate is in a battle to win a Dáil seat.

SINN FÉIN’S DUBLIN South-West by-election candidate has admitted the party’s policy on water charges did confuse some voters as he faces a battle with the Socialists to win the Dáil seat.

Cathal King is now neck-and-neck with the Socialist candidate Paul Murphy after the first count with just 748 votes separating the two candidates.

Water charges has been a huge issue in the by-election with Sinn Féin pledging to abolish them if in government, but saying they would keep Irish Water in operation and fund it through general taxation.

By contrast, the Socialists have said that not only will they abolish water charges if in government, but have urged people to boycott their water bills and mount a campaign of non-payment. The issue has led both parties to accuse each other of misleading voters.

King, who won’t be paying his water charges but isn’t encouraging voters to follow his lead, told reporters in Tallaght today: “I think it did confuse some people trying to identify the difference between Irish Water – the company – and actual water charges.

“We tried our best to get that message across – that Irish Water isn’t water charges. So yeah, it did confuse things a bit over the last couple of days and some parties took advantage of that by misleading people on our message.”

King accused the Socialists, who ran under the Anti-Austerity Alliance banner, of telling people on the doorsteps that Sinn Féin is in favour of water charges.

He added: “Over 60 per cent of people have voted for parties that are against the water charges.

“We believe we’re the party to change that. We’ve given 100 per cent commitment to abolish them and, if in government, we will do that.”

Despite facing a tougher than expected challenge from Murphy, King said he was “delighted” with the first count result although was disappointed with the low turnout.

“There seems to be a bit of voter apathy out there, people aren’t happy with what the government has done. People feel unfortunately that it doesn’t make a difference to vote and we need to change that,” he added.

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