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A water protest in Dublin in 2016. Sam Boal
no return

Taoiseach: 'Water charges will not be coming back'

The OECD has suggested the government reconsider the issue of domestic water charges.

“WATER CHARGES WILL not be coming back,” Taoiseach Micheál Martin said this morning.

Speaking on his way into Cabinet, the Taoiseach was asked about the latest OECD environmental review for Ireland, which suggests the Government reconsiders the issue of domestic water charges.

“No, we won’t be going back on that – we won’t be re-introducing water charges,” said the Taoiseach. 

The OECD report said the quality of groundwater supplies has deteriorated due to nitrate pollution and massive investment is needed in water services.

Martin said there has been increased investment in water infrastructure, stating that additional resources have been given to Irish Water over the last 12 months. 

Domestic water charges were introduced in Ireland in 2014 on a consumption-based charging system, following an announcement by the then Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan.

By October that year, opposition to the charges had grown and around 50,000 people marched against them in Dublin. 

In November, a large crowd gathered at the now-renowned Jobstown protest in which Joan Burton (Tánaiste at the time) was trapped in her car for over two hours by the protesters. 

That month, the new Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly said on RTÉ’s Six One news that legislation for the charges was “rushed through the Dáil” which shouldn’t have happened.

The charges were suspended in 2016 and a parliamentary committee further recommended that they be abolished.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Water Eoin Ó Broin TD has warned the government not to revisit the introduction of domestic water charges, meanwhile People Before Profit’s Paul Murphy said the push by the OECD today for Ireland to re-introduce water charges should be completely rejected.

If the government are considering this, they would be advised to re-watch Reeling in the Years show on 2014 to “remind themselves of the kind of mass opposition which defeated water charges then. Any attempt to re-introduce them now would be met with a similar mass movement”, said Murphy.

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