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'Like Del Boy trying to sell discounted goods': Socialist TDs are not impressed by water charge concessions

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said that the Government will “wait and see” if the public accepts the new water charges package.

Updated: 12pm

SOCIALIST PARTY TD Ruth Coppinger has said that the Government’s concessions on water charges will not appease the public.

Coppinger told Today with Keelin Shanley that the new water charges package is “like Del Boy trying to sell discounted goods from the back of a truck”.

Reports this morning stated the revised cap on charges, valid until the end of 2018, will be €60 per one-adult household, and €160 for all other homes.

The Dublin West TD said that there will be “mass refusal” of of water bills and the Government will have to listen as “we’re three bills away from a General Election”.

Socialist and Anti Austerity Alliance TD Ruth Coppinger (File photo) Source: Leah Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Earlier today, Coppinger’s party colleague Joe Higgins said he believes that the public will not accept the new package, which is due to be announced today.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Higgins said that the concessions, which will be announced at 3pm in the Dáil, are an attempt by the Government to get them “past the next General Election”.

“They are desperately casting around for something to salvage the regime of water charges,” he said.

This will not work. We have a risen people here. They want to continue to pay for their water – which they do and have done for generations through general taxation. Their measures will still be met with a huge movement of opposition.
People aren’t fools, people don’t believe the Government … When the time comes and the pressure is off. the price will rise inexorably.

Higgins said he expected a “major boycott” of the charges when bills are sent out early next year.

Joe Higgins Banking Inquires Joe Higgins (File photo) Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

On the way into the Cabinet meeting this morning, Finance Minister Michael Noonan told Morning Ireland and other reporters that the Government will have to “wait and see” if the public are appeased by the latest measures.

There has been a lot of controversy, there has been a lot of things said, there has be a lot of protest and people have been quite upset with the whole process. The intention this morning is to come up with a solution and make it clear to people that we have been listening to their concerns.

Cabinet Meeting. Pictured the Minister Noonan on the way into Cabinet this morning. Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Noonan added that there would be “various announcements” in relation to people who will refuse to pay the charges, but stated: “I’ll leave that to Minister Kelly.”

The Environment Minister said that the Government has spent the last number of months listening to the “genuine concerns” of the public.

Speaking on the way into Cabinet he stated:

I think this package will bring the people with us. I don’t think anything about this package will be harsh.

Tánaiste Joan Burton said that the new package has “a heavy emphasis on affordability”, referring to the rebate of €100 per household.

“In addition, if people so wish they will be able to apply for a water conservation support grant which will be paid by the Department of Social Protection on behalf of the Department of the Environment,” she stated.

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Cabinet Meeting. Pictured Tanaiste Joa Burton on the way into Cabinet this morning. Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Burton said the “critical issue” that has to be addressed is the fact that Ireland needs to invest “in a good clean water system”.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said that in “ten, 15 or 20 years we’ll be as proud of Irish Water as we are of the ESB or Bord na Móna”, which he described as “fine State institutions”.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Sinn Féin’s Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty reiterated that water charges are “a red line issue” for his party and would be scrapped if they came to power.

He added that the revenue lost by failing to introduce the charges could be recouped by progressive direct taxation.

Last night, a group of protesters staged a peaceful demonstration outside a Fine Gael meeting the Taoiseach was attending in Navan.

The Meath Chronicle reported that there were about 40 uniformed gardaí present, more than the number of protesters.

Originally published: 10am

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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