Minister Alan Kelly: ‘Don’t pull a fast one’ on water charges

Environment Minister Alan Kelly has warned people trying to “pull a fast one” by taking the €100 water conservation grant without paying charges that they will be hit with “penalties upon penalties” if they fail to comply with the law.

The Labour deputy leader made the claims as the Right2Water campaign prepares to make what it said will be a “significant announcement” at a press conference today launching the latest national protest on Saturday, and as a prominent Fine Gael TD lashed out at Phil Hogan for his legacy of “mistakes”.

Responding to ongoing concerns over the €100 conservation grant’s future yesterday, Mr Kelly said despite widespread speculation, he is not planning any changes “in the coming period” and “no proposals” will be brought to Cabinet.

Asked why people who are not paying their bills should still be able to receive the grant, he said: “If there are people out there who think they are going to pull a fast one and not pay their bill while registering for a grant, ultimately they will pay.

“They might think they are making a gain now. But ultimately, they will pay more than anyone who just normally pays their bill, because they’ll have penalties upon penalties and probably extra costs as a result when it’s taken out of their wages.”

The comment— which a spokesperson for Mr Kelly clarified relates to the existing rules that after two years of non payment the money will be taken out of wages or the penalties will be added to by legal costs, not new penalties — is likely to further fuel anger over the charges.

It also comes after an Irish Examiner questionnaire published yesterday revealed no party will order anyone to return the grant if in power, but that Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin will not reimburse compliant payers if they scrap Irish Water.

Minister Alan Kelly: ‘Don’t pull a fast one’ on water charges

Meanwhile, Fine Gael backbencher and Waterford TD John Deasy has said ex-environment minister and party colleague Phil Hogan “didn’t do a good job” in setting up Irish Water and that his “legacy” is “a lot of horrible mistakes” surrounding the utility.

“There were a lot of horrible mistakes made when it came to the setting up of Irish Water. Phil Hogan’s legacy when it comes to the setting up of Irish Water is not glorious to any extent, in actual fact he didn’t do a good job,” he said.

Mr Deasy lashed out at the fact “former local authority officials with massive pensions are now getting massive salaries in Irish Water”, a situation he said is “frankly immoral”, and did not rule out charge increases after 2018 as “I can’t see into the future”.

However, despite the problems the TD said he wants to make it “very clear” the utility will remain: “No matter who is in government after the next election none of the parties will abolish Irish Water. If you believe they will you’re mistaken.

“The parties who say they will immediately abolish Irish Water and it will be the first thing on their agenda are being completely disingenuous. Irish Water is here to stay.”

The Right2Water campaign will hold a press conference this morning to launch its latest national protest this Saturday, with what it said will be a “significant announcement”.


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