Joan Burton: Water charges should be refunded

Former tánaiste says Leo Varadkar will inherit a €2 million surplus

Labour leader Joan Burton: I was very critical of some of the decisions that Phil Hogan made.

Labour leader and former Tánaiste Joan Burton has said people who paid water charges should be refunded.

Ms Burton said the decision to suspend water charges was a mistake as costs were reduced to a “very affordable” level.

Ms Burton told Brendan O’Connor on RTÉ Radio 1: “People who paid the water charges...they’re going to have to be credited or refunded in some way.”

She said she was critical of former minister for the environment Phil Hogan and his role in the setting up of Irish Water.


“I think some of the decisions that were made at the beginning when Phil Hogan was minister.... I was very critical of them when I was a member of the Government. In particular I was concerned about people on low incomes.

“I was concerned that the charges could be at a much higher level than a family with say three of four children and particularly teenagers with long showers and playing GAA... that those bills would mount and mount,” she said.

Ms Burton said after having to “ravage social welfare” during her tenure as Minister for Social Protection as it faced a deficit “heading for €3 billion” when she took over.

She said newly appointed Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar will inherit a €2 million surplus for the first three months of 2016.

Ms Burton also said Irish people “should be proud of our social welfare system”.

Ms Burton would not be drawn on her future role in the Labour Party but said she will be active in the Labour party “no matter what”.

She said the Labour Parliamentary party will meet on Tuesday and that the party must decide who the new leader will be by the end of the summer.

Ms Burton was also critical of an RTÉ Late Late Show interview where British psychologist Peter Collett analysed her body language, saying it was “unncecessary and crude”.

“I thought the Late Late psychologist’s comments were odd, I haven’t heard those comments in relation to male politicians,” she said.

The psychologist said her body language could be attributed to rejection in early childhood.

Ms Burton said the comments were hurtful as she was adopted.