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Locals to refuse incoming water charges

Many local residents and businesses said they will refuse to pay the water charges Budget 2011 is bringing in.  The introduction of water charges will involve the prior installation of water meters in every household and business.  Once the meters are up and running it is likely that monthly payments will be mandatory when the limited credit on the meter runs out.  Many are worried about the impact these additional charges will have.

“What type of world do we live in that we have to pay to wash ourselves and our clothes, or drink water or flush the toilet?” said Mary, a lifelong resident of The Liberties.  “It’s going to be another bill in the door that I’ll be struggling to pay.  Water is a basic need to survive.  It is just madness that our right to free water is being taken away from us because of mistakes made by others.”

Joe, an OAP told me how he is also feeling the pressure with the water charges looming.  “I live on my own and the memory isn’t the best anymore,” he said chuckling.  What would happen if I forgot to pay the bill? Would I be cut off?  Dehydration can cause a lot of problems.  I shouldn’t have to worry about dehydration in the 21st century,” said Joe.

The general consensus on the effect these charges will have on businesses is that large businesses are not as worried. “I don’t think it’s going to affect business much to be honest,” said Brendan, a member of the bar staff in a popular local pub.  However, the smaller businesses said that they are hoping the implementation of the charges hold off for as long as possible.  “Another bill, no matter how small at the moment could throw us under,” said the owner of a small shop in the area. 

Exactly when the charges are implemented will be a matter for the new Government to decide.  As the Government will most likely be a Fine Gael and Labour coalition it is difficult to predict an outcome as the two parties have very different views on the issue. 

Fine Gael said that they will only support the introduction of household water charges when the following three conditions have been met:

• Household water meters have been put in place.

• Families are given a free water allowance / credit.

• The Responsibility for water delivery is transferred from 34 local authorities to a single national water company.  Fine Gael believes that such a national water company will be up and running within 12 months.

In stark contrast the Labour Party’s manifesto says “Labour does not favour water charges.”  However in contradiction, this month Pat Rabbitte said the Labour party favoured charges from 2014, with householders granted a specific allowance of free water.  “They will in the future have to pay for water above that minimum allowance,” he said.   

At the moment it seems there will be no escaping the water charges, however it is evident that many are willing to fight it to the end.

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