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Mary Lou McDonald said she would pay, but now says she won't.
Mary Lou McDonald said she would pay, but now says she won't.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

We asked every TD and Senator if they're paying their water charges. Here's what they said...

Most elected representatives intend to pay their water bills, but some won’t and some are undecided….
Nov 3rd 2014, 9:05 AM 62,277 72

Updated Monday, 3 November 2014 

AT LEAST 20 TDs and Senators will not pay their water charges with six saying they’re not yet sure if they intend to pay their bills.

A poll of every TD and Senator in Leinster House, carried out by TheJournal.ie last week, has revealed that the vast majority of deputies and senators intend to register with Irish Water and pay their bills when they are sent out next year.

Of the 225 Oireachtas members who were contacted via phone and email between Tuesday and Friday of last week a total of 171 responded – a response rate of 75 per cent – with 124 saying they intend to pay, 17 saying they will not, and six saying they don’t know.

Since the publication of our poll, the Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has said she now does NOT intend to pay as has party president Gerry Adams and finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty. This brings to 18 the number of deputies who will not comply with water charges.

A further 24 TDs and Senators who responded said they do not have to pay water charges as they have either a private well and septic tank, they are on a group water scheme or they have a business in their home so are a commercial customer.

The 16 TDs who said they would not be paying their water charges include nine independents, three Socialist Party deputies, and four Sinn Féin deputies.

The independent senator Marie-Louise O’Donnell also said she would not be paying her water bill unless the privatisation of Irish Water is constitutionally ruled out. Sinn Féin senator David Cullinane also said he would not be paying.

Undecided

Among the six who don’t know if they’ll pay are Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming who said he had not yet registered with Irish Water. Former minister Róisín Shortall also said she doesn’t know if she will pay.

“I’ll wait and see … maybe water charges will be dropped before a bill arrives,” Fleming told TheJournal.ie 

His position differs from most of his Fianna Fáil colleagues who said they would be reluctantly complying with the charges even though they are opposed to the way Irish Water has been set up and run.

“It’s not by any means a vote of confidence in Irish Water. I’ve no confidence in Irish Water but the law is the law,” Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary said.

Fianna Fáil TD Eamon Ó Cuív refused to participate in the survey, saying he does not do them. Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe also declined to answer, saying he did not want to state if he is paying or not in case others copy him.

Some Sinn Féin deputies said they would pay but three said they would not including the party’s justice spokesperson Padraig MacLochlainn.

Paying

Of the majority who said they will pay many in Fine Gael said they were happy to comply and pay their water bills. There was a similar view among their coalition colleagues in Labour.

Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae said he is “totally opposed” to Irish Water, describing it as a “shambles” and “totally chaotic”. But he added: “You needn’t like something to pay it.”

Two ministers with responsibility for Irish Water, Environment Minister Alan Kelly and his junior minister Paudie Coffey, were among the 54 Oireachtas members who did not respond to the survey.

- with reporting from Órla Ryan and Dan Mac Guill 

Read: Here are the TDs and Senators who won’t pay their water charges, the ones that don’t know and the ones that didn’t respond

Read: Is Irish Water getting any better at answering TDs’ questions?

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Hugh O'Connell

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