News that the average household charge could be as high as €240 per year was met with hostility this week.
The government have said that both Fine Gael and Labour are ‘united’ on the issue, but Labour’s Louth TD Gerald Nash has described the proposal for an average charge of €240 by Phil Hogan was “premature’.
Nash told the Democrat that: “Absolutely no decision has been taken on the level of charges for producing safe and clean water for households.
“ The final cost needs to be informed by the principal of ability to pay; affordability; the true economic cost of producing water and the objective of conservation of water.
“The proposals produced by Phil Hogan did nothing to address the question of affordability or conservation. They are premature.
“Everyone needs to be satisfied that the tariff structure is demonstrably fair and takes different household complexion; medical needs; ability to pay and incentives to conserve water fully into account.”
Sinn Fein Tomas Sharkey however believes it puts Labour politicians in an awkward position.
“The €240 water charge is a disgrace. Fine Gael and Labour are pushing families into further poverty.
“This move offers Labour Senator Mary Moran and TD Ged Nash the choice to resign in protest or to support Phil Hogans austerity agenda,” he added.
Councillor Jim Ryan says that the water charge could see people take to the streets in protest.
“There be a minority of people who would be fit to pay this charge and a lot more but for the vast majority will be fit to break.
“We keep or being told that we are last country in Europe to have water charges, but ignores the fact of what it is like on the ground for the ordinary man on the street.
“This recession was because we had a government who were in hock to developers and speculators.
“I believe that this could be the straw that breaks the camels back, and you will see people take to the streets.”