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Irish Water STILL won't tell us how many people have paid their bills

The AAA TD has been thwarted in his latest attempt to uncover payment rates.

90374712 Paul Murphy Source: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

IRISH WATER HAS again rejected Paul Murphy’s attempt to find out just how many people have paid their water charges.

The Anti Austerity Alliance TD has been attempting to get the controversial utility to disclose how many people have paid their water bills after the first ones were issued in April.

After Irish Water officials refused to tell him, Murphy submitted an Freedom of Information request which was then rejected on the grounds of, amongst other things, the public interest.

Murphy appealed this decision to the internal Irish Water FOI appeals officer who has again rejected the request.

The Dublin South-West deputy has now lodged an appeal with the Information Commissioner.

In his decision issued to Murphy on Tuesday, Irish Water’s internal reviewer Gerry Galvin said he agreed with the original assessment of the request – that the utility is still in the middle of its billing cycle.

“Some bills are being cancelled if they have been issued to householders who are not customers but who are now informing Irish Water of this fact for the first time,” Galvin said.

“In addition, a customer who received a default bill but who then contacts Irish Water to register their correct circumstances has or will also have been re-issued with a new, accurate bill.”

Irish Water FOI appeal 1 Page one of Irish Water's latest letter to Paul Murphy

Irish Water FOI appeal 2 Page two of Irish Water's latest letter to Paul Murphy

Galvin said it is understood that Irish Water will be in a position to publish the information once it is fully collated.

He also wrote that he is in agreement with the original decision maker “that the public interest is best served by affording Irish Water a normal degree of confidentiality”.

“Irish Water should be afforded the opportunity to begin operating as a commercial utility company and to bring about reform of Ireland’s water sector on behalf of all the Irish people,” he continued.

The public interest is therefore best served in this instance by not releasing at this time the information requested in the third part of your FOI request.

Murphy, who strongly advocates that water charges be boycotted, described the latest response from Irish Water as “incredible” given this has been a major political issue for the past year.

He added:

Rather than strengthening their position their refusal to release these figures undermines their position further as feeds into everyone’s suspicion that the payment rates are at a really low level.

Having been repeatedly thwarted in his attempts to find out how many people have paid their bills, Murphy believes the refusal to disclose payment rates is politically motivated.

A spokesperson from the Department of the Environment has previously told TheJournal.ie that “we’re not hiding payment rates” and insisted “that’s a matter for Irish Water”.

Read: Have you paid your water charges bill? Paul Murphy thinks most people haven’t…

Read: Irish Water thinks it’s better you don’t know how many bills have been paid

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Hugh O'Connell

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