Burton: Water charges for family of four adults 'will be below €200'

Burton: Water charges for family of four adults 'will be below €200'

The Tánaiste Joan Burton says water charges for a family of four adults will be below €200, and not nearly €500 as previously stated.

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach has told the Dáil that the charges will not be dropped, but says the Coalition plans to clear up the confusing regime.

There is only one topic dominating the debate in the Dáil.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins brought up the cost of the water charges with the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton.

He said: "A family of four, including an 18 and 19-year-old and two adults, you want them to pay next year just under €500."

But in the Tánaiste's response she appeared to let it slip that the previously announced charges for such a family would not be what people are charged.

She said: "I am perfectly happy to say that it is my view that the charge in relation to the type of family or household you have indicated will be below €200."

The Taoiseach faced a barage of questions too this afternoon.

Enda Kenny admitted the Government had not handled it well, but rejected calls for the charges to be scrapped.

Mr Kenny said: "The Government will not drop the water contribution charges.

"What the Government will do, is having listened to the people, is bring in a regime that is clear, fair and affordable."

He also rejected the move from Sinn Féin calling for a referendum to prevent Irish Water being provatised in future.

The Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment Brian Stanley put forward a bill for it this afternoon and called on the Government to allow the bill go through so that it can be put to the people in a referendum.

Deputy Stanley said: "It is vital that the water service is retained in public ownership. That is why I have put forward this legislation to change the constitution to ensure that that is guaranteed no matter what party happens to be in power.

"As matters stand the water services could be privatised depending on the attitude of whoever happens to be in power.

"I note the support for such a constitutional guarantee on the part of members of the Labour Party, and I would hope that that party uses its influence within the Cabinet to ensure that our proposal is accepted and that such a guarantee is put to the people in a referendum."

Update: 7pm

A spokesman for Joan Burton says the Tánaiste was only expressing her opinion when she said a family of four adults would face water charges of less than €200 a year.

Both he and a spokesman for Enda Kenny say no figures have been signed off, and it could be two weeks before the new charges are agreed.

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