Not all water charges will be refunded before Christmas, Dáil told

Minister blames ‘Sinn Féin and Left parties’ for delay in getting money back to households

Minister for Local Government Eoghan Murphy has confirmed all water charges will not be refunded before Christmas, as originally planned. Photograph: Cyril Byrne.

Minister for Local Government Eoghan Murphy has confirmed all water charges will not be refunded before Christmas, as originally planned. Photograph: Cyril Byrne.

 

It will not be possible to refund water charges to all the households who paid before Christmas, Minister for Local Government Eoghan Murphy has confirmed.

He accused those opposed to the Bill - “Sinn Féin and the parties of the Left’’ - of delaying the passage through the Dáil of the Water Services Bill by repeating speeches and resubmitting amendments which were already rejected.

“To suggest this is water charges through the back door is a complete nonsense,’’ he added.

The Bill provides for the refunding of water charges to households who paid and introduces fines for excessive use of water.

It passed all stages in the Dáil on Wednesday by 71 votes to 39 and now goes to the Seanad.

Mr Murphy said he did not view the Bill’s passage as a victory for the people.

“I view this as political parties and politicians trying to use this issue to score points against a Government that was trying to recover the economy and a country,’’ he added.

He said those politicians who had used it for their own political gain had done a great disservice to the public they claimed to represent.

After the 2016 General Election, said Mr Murphy, a Government had to be put together and that meant putting stability over populism.

He said he hoped the passage of the Bill settled the matter for a number of years.

He said Irish Water had proven itself in a number of instances and had done some good work.

Mr Murphy said he had no problem with a referendum on public ownership, “if we think it is a priority over other referendums’’.

The other referendums included one on the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, he added.