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Does missing the Irish Water deadline mean no €100 grant? A lot of people weren't clear on Monday...

There was widespread confusion about whether those who did not register by the Monday midnight deadline would qualify for the water conservation grant.

Andrew Doyle on TV3's Tonight with Vincent Browne last Monday
Andrew Doyle on TV3's Tonight with Vincent Browne last Monday
Image: TV3 Player

INFORMATION GIVEN TO government TDs and senators in relation to Irish Water needs to be clearer after considerable confusion over access to the €100 grant earlier this week, a government backbencher has said.

Andrew Doyle, a Fine Gael TD for Wicklow, made the call after he was left with the impression, repeated on national television, that those who did not register with Irish Water by Monday’s midnight deadline would NOT qualify for the €100 water conservation grant.

The €100 grant is being provided to offset the cost of water charges and is due to be paid to households in the autumn.

Monday’s deadline, that turned out not be a definitive deadline for registration, caused confusion in some quarters, primarily because of the information that was being given out on the airwaves.

For example, on Monday’s Morning Ireland, Labour senator Lorraine Higgins spoke of “possible penalties” for not registering before the deadline, before admitting there’s “no clarity” on what those penalties will be.

File Photo Irish Water has said there are no penalties for not registering with the company by the midnight deadline tonight but those who do not may face a higher charge. Speaking on RTE Irish Water spokesperson Elizabeth Arnett Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

The situation appeared to be confused further by Irish Water’s Elizabeth Arnett telling Today with Seán O’Rourke later that morning that despite there being no penalties “unless your details have been confirmed with us you won’t be able to apply to the Department of Social Protection for that grant”.

“So, it’s not that there a penalty it’s just that you will actually miss out if you haven’t confirmed your details,” she said when asked by O’Rourke about possible penalties for not registering.

Arnett was not date specific in her answer regarding whether not registering by the midnight deadline meant you would not qualify for the €100 grant.

Subsequent briefing notes prepared for TDs’ media appearances summarised that specific part of her interview as follows:

  • There are NO penalties for not meeting today’s registration deadline
  • IF you do not register there will be an assumption that you are on a standard charge, even if you are on the lower rate
  • Re €100 conservation grant, if your details are not registered you cannot receive the grant.
  • So it is in the interests of people to register their details.

On RTÉ’s News at One that same Monday afternoon, Environment Minister Alan Kelly responded to questions about the grant by saying it was necessary to register with Irish Water, but then intimated that the deadline for the grant would be at a “later date in the summer”.

“If you’re going to get the water conservation grant of €100 you will have to register with Irish Water and that will be a necessity to do so – at a later date in the summer there will be an administrative  deadline in relation to that.”

Then on Monday night, Doyle appeared on Tonight with Vincent Browne on a panel alongside the Irish Independent’s Colette Browne, Fianna Fáil senator Thomas Byrne and TheJournal.ie‘s Hugh O’Connell.

Vinb

During the course of a discussion on the Irish Water deadline (22 minutes 45 seconds in) Doyle said that “anyone who doesn’t sign up tonight doesn’t qualify for the water conservation grant”.

It was immediately pointed out by the other panellists that Doyle was wrong on this crucial piece of information.

He responded: “The information I have is that actually if you wanted to be guaranteed you’re going to qualify for the 100 euro you have to register tonight.”

Doyle was visibly annoyed after the programme. He later told TheJournal.ie: “I was definitely unhappy that I seemed to be given the wrong impression about the water conservation grant.”

“The rules seem to have been subtly changed and I wasn’t clear about it on the night. My understanding all along was what I said on Monday night – that the grant was not payable if you did not register by midnight.”

image00-6 Environment Minister Alan Kelly on the Six One News last Monday Source: RTÉ Player

Higgins declined to comment on the way in which she’d been briefed.

But Doyle said that: “The Department needs to be clearer. I’m not blaming our own press office [Fine Gael]. But the Department needs to be clearer in the dissemination of information.”

A Department of Environment spokesperson insisted again yesterday that Monday’s deadline was “an administrative deadline, as the minister said”.

They said: “There’s no closing date in relation to applications for the water conservation grant. There will be later in the year, probably sometime in the summer.”

So, just in case you’re not clear if you didn’t register for Irish Water by the Monday deadline you have not missed out on the €100 conservation grant.

Or as the Department of Environment spokesperson insisted: “Nobody has missed out on anything.”

Read: Missed last night’s water charge deadline? No problem, it seems

Read: You WON’T be fined for not registering with Irish Water by midnight

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Hugh O'Connell

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