Irish Water: Five questions that must be answered
A JOINT committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services is to consider that Expert Commission report on water charges. But where should they focus?
1. Should there be a referendum on keeping Irish Water in public ownership?
The report says that as part of the committee's "overall approach", members should look at the "adoption of a suitable constitutional provision on public ownership of water services".
2. Should the water metering programme be completed?
The report notes that 873,000 households now have meters installed out of a target of 1.4 million.
The Expert Commission recommends that consideration should be given to "metering of buildings in the case of multi-occupancy" and district metering.
3. How to help households with their own wells?
The report says that if charges are abolished for the majority of households, then something must be done for people on Group Water Schemes and with their own wells.
4. What is a suitable 'free allowance'?
While the Expert Commission recommends that the free allowance should be enough to cover the average daily requirements of a household, the usage figures are unclear.
It is likely that some international comparisons will have to be studied by the committee.
5. Should those who paid their bills get their money back?
While Fine Gael favours chasing those unpaid bills, the smaller groups on the committee want to give refunds.
Fianna Fáil, which is sitting on the fence, could hold the balance of power.