Fine Gael-dominated areas top for water tax registration

Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s home county of Mayo has one of the highest rates of registration for water charges in the country, while Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams’s constituency of Louth has one of the lowest.

A breakdown of how many households in each county have so far registered for charges shows Fine Gael-dominated counties have among the highest levels, with some of the lowest in areas where Sinn Féin has a growing stronghold.

Some 90% of households in Mayo (43,212) have registered, while 65% (28,814) in Louth have signed up.

Figures show the home counties of several Cabinet ministers have high registration rates — these include Cavan at 91% (Arts Minister Heather Humphreys), Wexford with 80% (Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin) and Tipperary at 76% (Environment Minister Alan Kelly).

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The lowest level is in Leitrim at just 57%. Others with some of the lower rates of registration with Irish Water include Dublin (65%), Meath (68%), and Donegal (69%).

Other counties with large populations where there are mixed rates of registration include Galway (76%), Cork (72%), Limerick (71%), and Kildare (71%).

Information obtained from Irish Water under Freedom of Information shows the numbers registered across the 26 counties to February 23 — the most recent period for which data was available.

Estimates on the percentage registered in each county were compiled comparing the Irish Water figures with the 2011 census data on private households from the CSO. The actual number of dwellings in each county is likely to be more.

However, Irish Water claimed it did not have its own breakdown of how many households in each county must pay the charge.

The figures show that as of February 23, some 1.196m residences were registered for charges. No data on the numbers of residences who have actually paid for water is available and is not expected to be until all bills have been issued to households by the end of June.

Fine Gael-dominated areas top for water tax registration

Other information from the analysis shows:

  • The average percentage of registration across all counties is 69%;
  • 10 out of 26 counties have registration rates above 75%.

Opponents of water charges have called for a mass boycott of payments. Socialist TD Paul Murphy last week complained that the Government and Irish Water would not release figures on the numbers of households which had paid charges so far.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny responded by telling Mr Murphy he will not “spoonfeed” him and that he should “toddle along” to a meeting in Leinster House where Irish Water would “give you the answer to any questions that you want to ask”.

The Government is finalising legislation to deduct people’s pay and dole — as a last resort — if they fail to pay. Separate measures are also being drawn up to allow landlords retain the deposits of tenants if they leave bills unpaid.

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