Cabinet expected to delay water charges introduction as protests continue

The Cabinet is today expected to agree a short delay in the introduction of water charges as part of a new package of measures to be announced tomorrow.

Cabinet expected to delay water charges introduction as protests continue

The Cabinet is today expected to agree a short delay in the introduction of water charges as part of a new package of measures to be announced tomorrow.

A cap of at least four years will form part of the package, with final bills expected to be less than €200a year for families.

It is reported that billing will not now start until January, instead of from the start of October as previously announced, meaning it will be April before the first bills arrive at homes.

Under the revised plan, to be finalised today and announced tomorrow, average bills for a one-person household would be €176, or €278 for a home of two adults or more, with a €100 reduction when an allowance or rebate is applied for.

The Government also plans to leave these flat or capped charges in place for at least four years, but it's understood if people's meters offer them an even cheaper option, that will be facilitated.

Among the issues still to be debated by Cabinet is how to collect the charge from those who refuse to pay it.

The final details will be outlined in the Dáil tomorrow afternoon ahead of a debate that will run tomorrow night, all day Thursday and a vote will take place on a Government motion.

Meanwhile, a series of incidents involving ministers at anti-water charge protests isn't being taken lightly.

It is reported this morning that Gardaí will be checking on security at government members' homes and mobile patrols will be increased in the surrounding areas.

Last night the Taoiseach found himself at the centre of the latest scuffles arising out of a protest in Sligo, while Finance Minister Michael Noonan required increased Garda protection at an event in Limerick yesterday.

In Sligo last night hundreds of people turned out for a demonstration as Enda Kenny arrived for an event, with some surrounding his car, and one man climbing on the bonnet.

One woman was treated at the scene by ambulance personnel.

Afterwards, the Taoiseach was asked if he was frightened by the incident.

"I think you should ask that question of the ringleaders of those who were outside," Mr Kenny said.

"Have they any care for the women and children who are out there?

"Have they any care for who might get knocked over or walked on or physically hurt?

"It seemed to me as if they didn't."

Meanwhile the Right2Water campaign say they do not believe heated scenes at recent protests undermine their campaign.

They are planning another mass demonstration for December 10.

"I think people can make their own distinctions," said John Douglas, General Secretary with Mandate trade union who are one of the organisers of the event.

He says the violent protesters are not part of their campaign.

"We have mobilised over 300,000 people on the street in two massive demonstrations.

"There was not one reported incident at either of those.

"We expect on the 10th of December that it will be a fun day, that families will attend… and protest in a peaceful manner."

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