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Dublin: 17 °C Sunday 25 August, 2019
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Enda Kenny: It's either water charges, or a 4% tax increase, or 'boiling water for decades'

The Taoiseach was speaking in Dublin tonight.

FINE GAEL PRESIDENTIAL DINNER Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking to the media at the Fine Gael Presidential Dinner tonight Source: Julien Behal/Maxwells

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has this evening defended the introduction of water charges, in the face of historic nationwide protests earlier today.

Speaking at the Fine Gael Presidential Dinner in the Doubletree Hilton on Dublin’s south side tonight, Kenny said Irish Water had been set up, and water charges put in place “as an alternative to increasing income tax.”

I am not prepared to increase income tax by four percentage points on the top rate, to do away with our tax package in the recent Budget…
…the introduction of Irish Water is being done in this way as an alternative to increasing income tax…
The government did not increase income tax in the last three and a half years, and in the most recent budget have reduced the top rate, and increased the band at the lower rate…and that will continue next year, and the year after if the government is re-elected.

FINE GAEL PRESIDENTIAL DINNER Source: Julien Behal/Maxwells

He denied, however, that his specific and repeated reference to a 4% income tax increase was a “threat” to voters, saying that he was describing a set of “choices” presented to his government, and to the public.

They can either re-elect a government that pulled our country out of the economic swamp in which we found it, or we can hand it back to those who wrecked it, or to those who have no stability and no consistency on how to pay for any of these services…

Surrounded by Fine Gael representatives and members, the Taoiseach added that without water charges, Ireland would left in “a situation where people…continue to boil water for decades” – an outcome he said he was “not prepared” to allow.

fg Source: Julien Behal/Maxwells

Reacting to today’s demonstrations, which saw more than 100,000 people take to the streets of towns and cities across Ireland, Kenny insisted the government was “listening very carefully.”

We are conscious of people’s concerns, and we will deal with this clearly and with certainty…
In the next number of weeks we’ll set out what people really want to hear – and that’s certainty and clarity about how much they pay, what they pay for, how they can pay that, and what they get in return.

Additional reporting by Hugh O’Connell.

Read: As it happened: Tens of thousands protest against water charges>

We asked every TD and Senator if they’re paying their water charges. Here’s what they said…>

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Dan MacGuill

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