About 70% register with Irish Water on time for grant

Still not known exactly how many people have paid their first bills to semi-state

Richard Boyd Barrett TD and Ruth Coppinger TD,  with activist Michella Russell (left), at a press conference announcing details of an anti-water charges protest outside the Dáil on Wednesday, July 1st, at 6pm. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Richard Boyd Barrett TD and Ruth Coppinger TD, with activist Michella Russell (left), at a press conference announcing details of an anti-water charges protest outside the Dáil on Wednesday, July 1st, at 6pm. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

An estimated 70 per cent of householders had registered with Irish Water by Tuesday’s deadline date to allow them claim a €100 water conservation grant from the Government.

It is still not known exactly how many people have paid their first bills to the new semi-state company.

The first quarterly billing cycle for Irish Water was for January, February and March, with the first bills landing in April. The second round of bills will be sent out from July onwards.

It is understood the board of Ervia, Irish Water’s parent company, has been informed of the level of payments but is not yet known when the figures will be released.

A Government spokesman said on Tuesday the figures will be published “in due course” and added the Coalition would have “no issue” with publication of the figures once they have been finalised by Irish Water.

Under pressure

The Government has come under pressure from the Opposition to publish the figures, and another anti-water charges protest is planned for outside the Dáil tonight.

An Irish Water spokeswoman said over 1.32 million people, or 70 per cent of those who can register with the semi-state, had done so as of earlier this week.

Registering with the company does not mean a householder has to pay their water charges, and they are entitled to claim the €100 grant even if they do not pay.

The grant will be administered and paid by the Department of Social Protection, and a separate application process for the payment of the €100 will open later this year.

Of the 1.32 million who have registered, about 80 per cent are customers who will be billed for their water, while the remaining 20 per cent have their own water services, such as group water schemes.

An estimated 1.5 million households are either connected to mains water or waste water services, which means they will be billed by Irish Water. Some 1.05 million of those - 70 per cent - have registered.

The spokeswoman said while Irish Water experienced a lot of activity on Tuesday, it was not enough to hugely change those figures.

Meanwhile, the lifting of boil water notices for thousands of people “would simply not be possible” without Irish Water, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has said.

He was speaking after the company confirmed the HSE had lifted boil water notices for 11,300 customers in the Killeglan and Castlerea areas of Co Roscommon.

This came after Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inspections of related water treatment plants earlier this week.

A boil water notice for 6,000 customers in Boyle was lifted on May 1st.

“This now means that over 17,000 people can drink their water in Roscommon this year that couldn’t last year,” said Mr Kelly.

“This would simply not be possible without the creation of Irish Water. Irish Water was able to target and prioritise these vulnerable areas and bring to a close the sorry saga of boil water notices in quick fashion.

“I have no doubt that similar successes will be replicated throughout the country.”

John Tierney, Irish Water’s managing director, said dealing with the boil water notices had been a “top priority” since the utility came into existence.

“Irish Water as a national water utility has been able to fast-track and co-ordinate the completion of this and other projects in Co Roscommon so that boil water notices will be lifted for 22,700 customers in Roscommon by the end of this year,” he said.

“We acknowledge the work of the contractors and Roscommon County Council in helping us to achieve this.”