Independent TDs raise concerns about group water schemes
Suspension of Irish Water charges may affect people paying for water in rural areas
Independent Alliance TD Michael Fitzmaurice: “Rural Ireland cannot be forgotten again.” Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Independent TDs have raised concerns about the effect the suspension of water charges will have on the thousands of householders on group water schemes.
Galway East TD Seán Canney and Roscommon-South Leitrim TD Michael Fitzmaurice, both members of the Independent Alliance, urged Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to clarify what would happen to people who had been paying for water in rural areas.
“Forty per cent of rural Ireland is on water schemes, and they have been forgotten in all of these talks,” Mr Fitzmaurice said. “Rural Ireland cannot be forgotten again.”
There are 190,000 households on group schemes, and 170,000 using private wells.
The €140 subvention traditionally paid to group water schemes was reduced to €95 last year.
Mr Canney said many of his constituents who had been paying for water for decades would now question why they should continue to pay their bills. “It is creating divides . . . We don’t know what they will come up with but it has to consider those people.”
Mr Halligan said it made it easier for those Independents who campaigned against the levies in the general election to support a minority government.
The Independent Alliance TD was due to meet Minister for Health Leo Varadkar yesterday to discuss his concerns about 24-hour cardiac care at Waterford Regional Hospital. The meeting was postponed because Mr Varadkar was attending negotiations with Fianna Fáil. It is expected to take place today.
Mr Halligan said: “I would need a commitment in writing that a clinical review would be carried out.
“This has been promised before and has never materialised so I would be eager for it to be put in writing before offering my support.”
Life or death
“Water, while it is important, is not a life-or-death issue, and for me increasing homelessness, inappropriate accommodation and the waiting lists and mental health should be the priority.”
She said she would find it difficult to support Fine Gael’s economic policies but was prepared to stick with the process. She said she was very definite on how the party had hit certain people disproportionately over the past five years.
Fine Gael is eager to win the support of at least eight more TDs to form a minority government.