#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 15°C Thursday 30 June 2022

These TDs and Senators are refusing to pay water charges. Here's why...

“The level of non-cooperation and non-engagement with Irish Water shows that the Government should just give up now.”

Updated Monday, 3 November 2014 

LAST WEEK THEJOURNAL.IE contacted 225 Oireachtas members to see who intends on paying water charges – and who doesn’t.

Of the 171 politicians who responded, 17 told us they would refuse to pay their bill. Mary Lou McDonald, Pearse Doherty and Gerry Adams have subsequently said they will NOT pay, bringing to 20 the number of elected representatives refusing to comply.

The following TDs, and one senator, belong in the ‘no’ camp:

  • Gerry Adams (Sinn Féin)
  • Tommy Broughan (Independent)
  • Richard Boyd Barrett (People Before Profit)
  • Joan Collins (United Left Alliance)
  • Ruth Coppinger (Socialist Party)
  • Senator David Cullinane (Sinn Féin)
  • Clare Daly (Independent)
  • Pearse Doherty (Sinn Féin)
  • Dessie Ellis (Sinn Féin)
  • Martin Ferris (Sinn Féin)
  • John Halligan (Independent)
  • Séamus Healy (Workers and Unemployed Action Group)
  • Joe Higgins (Socialist Party)
  • Pádraig Mac Lochlainn (Sinn Féin)
  • Mary Lou McDonald (Sinn Féin)
  • Catherine Murphy (Independent)
  • Paul Murphy (Socialist Party)
  • Thomas Pringle (Independent)
  • Mick Wallace (Independent)
  • Senator Marie Louise O’Donnell (Independent)

Some of them elaborated on their decision. Here’s what they said:

Tommy Broughan wants Irish Water to be abolished and for local authorities to re-take control of water services.

I’ve always been opposed to water charges, I walked out of the Dáil when the Bill went through.

The water tax is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Richard Boyd Barrett 

The level of non-cooperation and non-engagement with Irish Water shows that the Government should just give up now.

Housing Bill Protests Richard Boyd Barrett and Ruth Coppinger Source: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Dessie Ellis

I’ve made it clear I won’t be paying them, but I’m leaving it up to others to make their own decision.
Martin Ferris
I can well afford to pay water charges, but in solidarity with those who can’t, I will not be paying them.
John Halligan
I think it’s an unjust charge. Irish Water will eventually be privatised, the way it’s been set up is appalling.

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

I’m not paying, but I nor Sinn Féin are advocating a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ stance as it is an issue of personal choice and reflecting personal circumstances.I will stand with families regardless of their position on payment/non-payment.

Sinn Fein Gay Lesbian Referendums Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Catherine Murphy

I am not opposed to a conservation approach to water charging;  i.e. everyone gets a free allowance sufficient for cooking or hygiene, using the average consumption figures from other countries, and over and above that excess could be charged for.

I also don’t believe a big quango is required.

Senator Marie Louise O’Donnell

It’s a tough question to answer. Unless it’s enshrined in the Constitution that it won’t be privatised – then, under the current loose legislation, it’s a ‘No’. Though I do believe water must be paid for.

The following politicians don’t know if they will pay the charges or not:

  • Michael Colreavy (Sinn Féin)
  • Seán Fleming (Fianna Fáil)
  • Fidelma Healy Eames (Reform Alliance)
  • Finian McGrath (Independent)
  • Maureen O’Sullivan (Independent)
  • Róisín Shortall (Independent)

Seán Fleming is one of the deputies on the fence, telling us:

I’ll wait and see … maybe water charges will be dropped before a bill arrives.

Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames is also undecided:

Irish Water needs to be disbanded and the Government needs to start again. It’s a complete mess.The Government needs to make up its mind whether its goal is water conservation or collection of a tax. You can only have conservation when everyone has a meter so that is not working.There is no public confidence in Irish Water. From what I hear and see, I expect there will be a protest of mass civil disobedience against payment and I’m talking from rural Ireland too, not just urban Ireland.

Maureen O’Sullivan

[The Government] should put the whole thing on hold until there’s a fairer deal, but also, in principle, I have a problem with the way water has become a profit-making commodity.I wouldn’t encourage people to break the law and the legality involved is really the only reason I would even consider paying the charges.

Dail Is Back Maureen O'Sullivan Source: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell said that while he intends on registering for water charges, he will refuse to share his PPS number. Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea did not repsond to our survey but recently said he would also not be giving his PPS number to Irish Water.

Craughwell added:

I would support a referendum on the ownership of Irish Water as I have a real fear that it will be privatised.

123 of the 169 politicians who responded to the survey said that they intend to pay.

Some 24 TDs and Senators said that they are not eligible to pay the charges as they have private wells or are on group water schemes.

The following members of the Oireachtas, including Environment Minister Alan Kelly, did not respond to the poll:

  • Senator Seán Barrett (Independent)
  • Tom Barry (Fine Gael)
  • Paudie Coffey (Fine Gael)
  • Niall Collins (Fianna Fáil)
  • Seán Conlan  (Fine Gael)
  • Michael Creed  (Fine Gael)
  • Senator Jim Daly (Fine Gael)
  • Junior Minister Damien English (Fine Gael)
  • Alan Farrell (Fine Gael)
  • Minister Charlie Flanagan (Fine Gael)
  • Terence Flanagan (Reform Alliance)
  • Tom Fleming (Independent)
  • Noel Grealish (Independent)
  • Senator Jimmy Harte (Labour)*
  • Minister Heather Humphreys (Fine Gael)
  • Minister Alan Kelly (Labour)
  • Seán Kenny (Labour)
  • Michael Lowry (Independent)
  • Senator Fiach Mac Conghail (Independent)
  • Peter Mathews (Independent)
  • Charlie McConalogue (Fianna Fáil)
  • Helen McEntee (Fine Gael)
  • Gabrielle McFadden (Fine Gael)
  • Minister Joe McHugh (Fine Gael)
  • Sandra McLellan (Sinn Féin)
  • Michael McNamara (Labour)
  • Olivia Mitchell (Fine Gael)
  • Senator Mary Moran (Labour)
  • Senator Tony Mulcahy (Fine Gael)
  • Michelle Mulherin (Fine Gael)
  • Dara Murphy (Fine Gael)
  • Denis Naughten (Independent)
  • Minister Michael Noonan (Fine Gael)
  • Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Féin)
  • Éamon Ó Cuív (Fianna Fáil)
  • Brian Ó Domhnaill (Fianna Fáil)
  • Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Sinn Féin)
  • Jonathan O’Brien (Sinn Féin)
  • Senator Darragh O’Brien (Fianna Fáil)
  • Willie O’Dea (Fianna Fáil)
  • Kieran O’Donnell (Fine Gael)
  • Patrick O’Donovan (Fine Gael)
  • Joe O’Reilly (Fine Gael)
  • Senator Ned O’Sullivan (Fianna Fáil)
  • Ann Phelan (Labour)
  • Ruairi Quinn (Labour)
  • Senator Kathryn Reilly (Sinn Féin)
  • Michael Ring (Fine Gael)
  • Alan Shatter (Fine Gael)
  • Senator Tom Sheahan (Fine Gael)
  • Brendan Smith (Fianna Fáil)
  • Brian Stanley (Sinn Féin)
  • Liam Twomey (Fine Gael)
  • Senator Diarmuid Wilson (Fianna Fáil)

Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe told us that he didn’t want to share whether or not he’d be paying water charges in case it influenced others to follow his lead.

*Senator Jimmy Harte is currently recovering from a head injury incurred during a fall last year.

Additional reporting: Hugh O’Connell and Dan Mac Guill

Read: More than 100,000 will turn up at water charge protests tomorrow, predicts TD

Read: Clare Daly will get a plumber to increase her water pressure if the Government reduces it

About the author:

Órla Ryan

Read next: