Warning of backdated €20k a day fine if water charges scrapped

Fine Gael members have been warned that Ireland would be hit with a daily €20,000 fine, backdated to 2009, if water charges are scrapped.

Senator Paudie Coffey, who is a member of the water committee, told party members that Ireland would be fined more than €50m by the European Commission if they do not implement water charges.

He said that the arguments in favour of scrapping water charges put forward by Fianna Fáil in recent days were legally “questionable” and told his fellow Fine Gael members that the commission had already given Ireland a grace period to introduce these charges.

He said said that it was always going to be difficult toward the end of negotiations around the future of water.

It was agreed that space be given to the Fine Gael team in the committee to continue to negotiate the issues.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney also reiterated his stance that he will not legislate on something that is illegal.

There was laughter when Mr Coffey suggested that he had got to know members of the committee “intimately” during their work on the future of water charges.

Separately measures to free up vacant properties around the country were raised during the meeting.

Fergus O’Dowd told the meeting that there are currently 4,491 vacant homes in Cork City, with only 52 of these holiday homes.

He said Ireland’s vacancy rates were extremely high when compared with those of the UK.

Mr O’Dowd told Fine Gael members that Cork currently has a vacancy rate of 8.1%, this compares to a vacancy rate of just 1.7% in London.

He suggested that homeowners who leave properties vacant for more than a year should be penalised with a levy.

This motion was supported by Housing Minister Simon Coveney.

Mr Coveney said he was already looking into the high rates of vacant properties across the country and hoped to have a report back on the matter in the next six to eight weeks.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny singled out secretary Noel Rock and noted what a good job he was doing on the minute-taking of meetings. This again prompted some laughter.

It comes after the Dublin North-West TD faced criticism when he publicly suggested that it was time Mr Kenny stood down as Fine Gael leader.

More on this topic

Government accused of delaying potential referendum on public ownership of waterGovernment accused of delaying potential referendum on public ownership of water

Water referendum must 'not be rushed', says Eoghan Murphy Water referendum must 'not be rushed', says Eoghan Murphy

C&AG remit may cover water - Vote neededC&AG remit may cover water - Vote needed

New water charging system described as 'thin edge of the wedge'New water charging system described as 'thin edge of the wedge'


Triathlete Carolyn Hayes is flat out. Since October 2018, she’s literally been racing around the world.On the treble: Triathlete Carolyn Hayes goes flat out to win a place in the Olympics

Children starting or going back to school is a reminder of how we all need an energy boost when sitting at a desk for hours, no matter what our age.Energy fix: Top 8 snacks for children

A sommelier shares her top tips.The dos and don’ts of serving wine – you just might have been doing it all wrong

It’s that time of year again; the long summer days are numbered, summer’s lease is all too short as she takes her last few breaths.Learning Points: Top tips on coping with back to school stress for you and the kids

More From The Irish Examiner