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'Street thuggery has not won' - Just seven TDs in the Dáil to talk about water charge refunds

Just seven TDs attended last night’s late-night discussion of a Bill for the refund of water charges.

JUST SEVEN TDS were in attendance during a late-night Dáil debate to discuss legislation required for the refund of water charges.

Introducing the Bill last night, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said that the new legislation doesn’t “bring us to a point I am personally happy with or proud of”.

1 Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy Source: Oireachtas.ie

“My responsibility in this matter is to implement this legislation to protect Irish Water as a single public water utility and to continue to work to improve and modernise water services throughout the country,” he added.

The Bill will provide for the refunding of payments to the 990,000 Irish customers who paid their charges.

Fianna Fáil’s environment spokesperson Barry Cowen suggested that water charges had only served to “cost the country money” and that the “disastrous regime is at an end”.

cowan Barry Cowen Source: Oireachtas.ie

“It is now time to draw a line under this issue,” he said, speaking with regard to the anti-water charges movement.

He said that the end result which saw water charges suspended and a plan in place to refund those that were paid “is a direct result of the confidence and supply arrangement” put in place between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in May 2016 to facilitate the formation of a government.

“Street thuggery has not won and democracy has,” he said.

rbb Richard Boyd Barrett Source: Oireachtas.ie

Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said that claims that Irish people were over-using water to justify the imposition of charges in the first place were “all nonsense”.

“We use less water per household than people in the UK, where they have charges and privatisation. So it’s all nonsense,” he said.

The situation resulted from decades of chronic under-investment by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments… failing to address the massive leaks in the mains, not in individual households, something that Irish Water confirmed belatedly.

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murphy Paul Murphy Source: Oireachtas.ie

Fellow Solidarity-PBP TD Paul Murphy poured scorn on Fianna Fáil regarding how water charges were dealt with.

He said he wanted to talk about “how far we’ve come” in the debate.

“Water charges, as they were, were defeated by a mass movement, which Deputy Cowen shamelessly dismisses as street thuggery,” he said.

Murphy made the point that it was Fianna Fáil who brought forward water charges in the first place.

“So what’s the lesson? Never ever ever ever trust Fianna Fáil. They will make election promises and they will break those promises, and the lesson is that we will beat them anyway.”

The Bill will continue to be debated when the Dáil resumes this afternoon.

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