Water charges are ‘poll tax’, Independent Senator claims

Barrett says Irish Water failing and close to takeover by commissioner

Senator Sean Barrett: called for a debate “on what is turning out to be a poll tax”

Senator Sean Barrett: called for a debate “on what is turning out to be a poll tax”

 

Water charges are turning into a “poll tax”, Independent Senator Sean D Barrett claimed, as he called for a debate on alternative ways to run Irish Water.

Mr Barrett, an economist, said that when a local authority did not function in the past, the Government installed a commissioner to run it. “We are getting close to that situation with Irish Water.

“There is surplus staff, a bonus culture, weak regulation by a regulator that pays its own staff bonuses, the inability to communicate the ‘take it or leave it’ attitude, and the off-balance sheet vehicle that is allegedly meant to promote investment,” he said.

He called for a debate “on what is turning out to be a poll tax”.

Mr Barrett added that “the consumption of water does not change as people’s incomes increase”. Consumers used to pay for water through general taxation, “even though the first piece of propaganda put out was that we did not”.

A bad start

Earlier, Labour Senator Susan O’Keeffe welcomed assurances from Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin that the 12 per cent of people who would not qualify under budget measures for water allowances, would benefit.

The Government “is well aware that there are people who fall between the two measures” of social welfare and tax relief, “and there is every intent to make sure they do not remain outside these measures”.

Fianna Fáil Senator Terry Leyden expressed surprise that there was not a Fine Gael revolt over Irish Water, “as the management of the company is an absolute disaster”.

He said after the byelection results the Government decided to introduce “panic measures to alleviate the political damage”.