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Suspension of water charges will cost the taxpayer €115 million extra in 2017

It has also been revealed that the programme for installing domestic water meter is now under review following the suspension of charges.

Image: Shutterstock/Africa Studio

THE STATE WILL have to pay Irish Water an additional €115 million in 2017 due to water charges being suspended, according to estimates in a new document.

As well as this, it has been revealed that the programme for installing domestic water meter is now under review following the suspension of charges.

The document, published last night, is a briefing for the new Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney.

It states that 820,000 meters have been installed already across Ireland, and that the programme has saved 32 million litres of water per day as a result of leak detection.

Water charges were one of the key issues negotiated by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as they sought to reach their “confidence and supply” arrangement over the forming of a Fine Gael minority government.

Eventually, it was agreed that the charges would be suspended while they were reviewed by an Expert Commission that is due to report back with recommendations early next year.

This suspension will result in costs to the Exchequer of €11 million this year – when the suspension of the Water Conservation Grant is taken into account.

The conservation grant of €100 was awarded to households by the Department of Social Protection – but was suspended following the Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil deal.

By 2017, the document states that the costs to the State will be €115 million over what was initially contained in the business plan.

Meters

Speaking this afternoon on RTÉ’s Saturday with Claire Byrne, Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley said that the water metering programme should be suspended while the review was being carried out.

“I think all of that needs to be put on hold, quite frankly,” said Dooley.

I think the continued spending of money on the entity that is Irish Water until such time that there is an appropriate blueprint that will meet the need of the Irish people [should be stopped].

The cost of the metering programme has reached about €500 million to date.

Dooley called Irish Water a “failed entity” – saying that the responsibility of its failure was to rest solely on the shoulders of the former government and those who set it up.

10/09/15 Pictured is Timmy Dooley TD on the Plinth Timmy Dooley (File photo) Source: Leah Farrell

However, reflecting the tension inherent in the Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael deal, Fine Gael TD Sean Kyne said that the metering system was helping with conservation, and that Irish Water was “not a failed entity”.

“It’s not a failed entity – it’s the right decision,” he said.

He also stated that “the average Irish Water worker” felt hung out to dry by the opposition.

The average Irish Water worker feels very aggrieved by being classed and ridiculed in many ways by the statements by opposition politicians.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has also called for the metering programme to stop.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on water, Eoin Ó Broin said today that Minister Coveney should contact Irish Water to tell them to stop the metering programme immediately.

10/5/2016. Rent Certainty Eoin Ó Broin (File photo) Source: Leah Farrell

“No more taxpayers money should be wasted on this controversial scheme until the future of water and sanitation service delivery is clear,” he said.

The majority of member of the new Dáil voiced opposition to water charges during the general election campaign.

Fine Gael TDs were against suspending the charges as a result of the deal between them and Fianna Fáil, with senior figures coming out in the wake of the negotiations saying it was a bad idea.

Read: Finian McGrath says that he WILL pay his water charges

Read: Labour – including Alan Kelly – wants Irish Water to refund all payments

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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