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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 21 May, 2019
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Water charges won't bring down this government, says Taoiseach

Kenny said Irish Water is “getting on with its work” and is making “real advances”.

Image: Niall Carson

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has said water charges won’t bring down the government.

Kenny was asked by reporters if water charges is not resolved, will it continue to be a ‘dead cat’ as Michael Noonan described it, around the neck of Fine Gael going into the next election?

“In answer to your question, do I think that will bring the government down? No I don’t,” replied the Taoiseach.

Kenny would not be drawn further on whether those that have paid their water charges bill will get a refund, or if those who have paid will be pursued for the money.

The expert commission found that those who have paid should not be treated any less fairly than those who have not. It is now a matter that the Dáil committee has got to reflect on, and we await their recommendation to the Dáil.

The Taoiseach reiterated his point that there is a need for constant funding to deal with the issue of wastewater treatment.

The same point was made by former Environment Minister Alan Kelly in an interview with TheJournal.ie. Kelly is also adamant that despite crisis after crisis with Irish Water and charges, his original charging scheme will be introduced.

Irish Water 

Kenny said Irish Water is “getting on with its work” and is making “real advances” in the supply and treatment of water and wastewater.

In 2017 we cannot continue to have raw sewage being pumped into rivers and the sea at 42 places. So it is an issue for the Oireachtas, on behalf of the people, and I look forward to hearing the committee’s report at the end of March.

He said if he were to make any further remarks about his opinion on the issue, his remarks could be misconstrued and vowed to let the special Oireachtas committee tasked with dealing with the issue to get on with its work.

Another challenge facing this government in 2017 is the housing and homelessness crisis.

Last week, the latest Housing Department figures for November revealed that homeless numbers had reached 7,000 for the first time ever.

Homelessness 

In December, homelessness activist Father Peter McVerry said without urgent legislation, such as mortgage-to-rent legislation being obligatory on the banks, a further 25,000 houses could be repossessed by the banks.

When the Taoiseach was asked if he agreed with McVerry’s eviction prediction, he said he did not agree with those figures.

Father McVerry speaks from his heart at all times. The Father McVerry Trust have been very supportive of the efforts made by government here to provide emergency accommodation and emergency housing. They’re very supportive and encouraging to Minister Coveney.

Vulture funds have sometimes many needs. I don’t expect that number of people to be removed from their houses. I wouldn’t want to see that.

Clearly some cases have never responded in respect of the numeracy they were paying originally.

He said the government has brought in a whole suite of measures to allow for people who have difficulties and are in mortgage arrears “to move on with their lives and make arrangements in respect of their accommodation”.

There’s been a 15% fall in people coming out of difficulties with mortgage arrears this year and we intend to continue to work on that.

Read: Pint of the black stuff the most popular drink in the Dáil bar>

Read: ‘I don’t think he is immortal’: Gerry’s leadership remains unfazed after recent scandals>

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