Water charge cap has changed some minds, but 33% still say they won’t pay

Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll: poor are less likely to comply with charges

The capping of water charges announced by the Government after months of controversy has persuaded some householders to change their minds about paying, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

When asked if their households had intended to pay the charges before the cap was announced, 42 per cent said yes and 40 per cent said no.

However, with the cap in now place the number saying they would pay rose to 48 per cent, with 33 per cent saying they would not pay. Another 11 per cent were in the undecided category and 8 per cent said the issue didn’t apply to them.

The Government climbdown on the issue prompted 13 per cent of people to switch into the paying category, but 5 per cent of those who had intended to pay went the other way as a result of the change.


The poll shows a potentially strong compliance rate among the better-off AB voters, with 69 per cent of them saying they will pay and just 17 per cent saying they will not.

The strongest opposition to paying comes at the other end of the social scale: 40 per cent of the poorest DE voters say they will pay and 42 per cent say they will not.

The likelihood of paying rises steadily with age. The oldest over-65 category are the most compliant, with 59 per cent saying they will pay and 24 per cent saying they will not.

There is a big divergence in attitudes between those who own their own homes and those who rent. Among homeowners, 53 per cent say they will pay and 28 per cent will not. The reverse is the position among those who rent, with 35 per cent saying they will pay and 48 per cent saying they won’t.

Asked if they had personally protested against water charges, a surprisingly large 22 per cent said they had. The figure rose to 31 per cent in Dublin and dropped to 12 per cent in Connacht-Ulster, with the other regions coming in between.

As with the numbers of those who intend to pay, people in the DE social category and those renting were far more likely than average to say they had taken part in a protest.

When voters were asked whether they thought the protest against Joan Burton in Jobstown in November was peaceful or not, a substantial majority said it was not.

Just 24 per cent of respondents said the protest was peaceful; 60 per cent said that it was not. Another 11 per cent had no opinion and 5 per cent were unaware of the protest.

People in the poorer social categories were a little more inclined to say it was peaceful than those who are better off, but the variation in opinion was not very significant.

In age terms, the over 65s were more inclined to say the protest was not peaceful than those in the younger age categories.

23% rent

When people were asked if the household they lived in was privately owned or rented, 75 per cent saidthey lived in privately owned homes, 23 per cent were in rented accommodation and 2 per cent didn’t know. Unsurprisingly, there is quite a difference across the age categories, with 93 per cent of those over 65 living in privately owned homes. The proportion declined among younger age groups.

In class terms, there was also a significant difference, with 85 per cent of AB voters, 84 per cent of C1, 76 per cent of C2, and 55 per cent of DE voters living in privately owned houses.

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins is a columnist with and former political editor of The Irish Times