Nearly two-thirds of voters want water charges abolished

Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll: Working class most likely to back abolition, at 72%

Almost two-thirds of voters favour the complete removal of water charges, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll.

Asked whether they were “in favour or against the complete removal of water charges” 62 per cent of voters said they were in favour while 34 per cent said they were against.

Just 4 per cent said they didn’t know.

Water charges are currently suspended pending the report of a commission which is due to be completed in the coming months.


However, with all opposition parties, including Fianna Fáil, committed to their abolition, the minority Government is likely to lack the parliamentary support to continue with them.

Working class

Working class voters and people in the lowest income groups were most likely to favour the abolition of the charges, with 72 per cent of those in the lowest income bracket in favour.

Among those in the highest income group, just a thin majority - 51 per cent - say they want the charges abolished, with 45 per cent against.

However, farmers - many of whom already pay for their own water supplies through group water schemes or their own wells - are against the abolition of the charges by a majority of 55 per to 38 per cent, with 6 per cent don’t knows.

Perhaps surprisingly, voters in Dublin are the least likely to favour abolition, with 58 per cent in favour, and 38 per cent against removing the charges.

The Rest of Leinster (66 per cent), Munster (62 per cent) and Connacht-Ulster (63 per cent) all return greater majorities in favour of abolishing the charges.

Split evenly

Younger voters are also more likely to favour abolition. The oldest age group, the over-65s, are split evenly on the question, with 49 per cent in favour of abolition, 49 per cent against, and 2 per cent don’t knows.

Supporters of Sinn Féin are the most enthusiastic for getting rid of the charges - some 84 per cent of the party’s voters want to see their abolition.

The position of Fianna Fáil voters reflects the general position among the public almost exactly, with 63 per cent in favour of abolition, and 34 per cent against.

Supporters of Independents and others also closely reflect the national mood, though this group is comprised of such diverse groups - from rural Independents to the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit - that it contains widely varying views on the water charges.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times