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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Anti-charges campaigners say water commission chair 'biased'

Published 01/07/2016 | 02:30

Former senator Joe O’Toole Picture: Tom Burke
Former senator Joe O’Toole Picture: Tom Burke

The chair of the expert commission on water has claimed the body will have to find a solution to the water charges controversy with "enough sugar on it to make the medicine go down more easily".

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Anti-water charge campaigners demanded that former senator Joe O'Toole resign from his position after he also appeared to suggest that central taxation would not be enough to pay for water services.

The Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) said that Mr O'Toole's position was "untenable", and that he was "clearly" in favour of charges.

Speaking to 'Newstalk Breakfast', Mr O'Toole said the commission was a "political exercise" and the commission had to resolve a problem which "emerged from the democratic process".

He added: "We don't even know how much per house water is costing. The point I keep making is it's never been about the charge for water.

"Water is free, you can go to the parish pump, or out with a bucket. It's the delivery and the treatment of water that costs. That debate hasn't taken place. People voted a certain way, Leinster House is not prepared to grasp that nettle, so we have to find a solution that will have enough sugar on it to make the medicine go down easily."

AAA TD Paul Murphy said the interview suggested Mr O'Toole was "clearly in favour of water charges and biased".

"He clearly rejects the idea of paying for the provision of water through central taxation and is therefore in favour of charges.

"This fatally undermines his position when the reason for the setting up of this commission has been that through mass protest, boycott and the elections, people have rejected charging for water," said Mr Murphy.

The commission will produce a report setting out the long-term funding options for water services in five months. It will be analysed by a special Dáil Committee, but the Dáil votes on whether water charges should be abolished or retained.

Irish Independent

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