‘No refund for water billpayers’ – Coveney
■ Minister insists: 'People aren't expecting refunds' ■ But fearful TDs warn that voters want money back
Householders who paid their water bills will be denied refunds, with Housing Minister Simon Coveney insisting it would set a "dangerous precedent".
The minister wants a payment plan in place for hundreds of thousands of people who owe money to Irish Water.
"A lot of people who paid water charges aren't expecting refunds. What they want is fairness and equity to ensure that if they pay what they owe, others do the same," he told the Irish Independent.
He said he "won't stand over a situation where people who paid are made a fool of because they did the right thing".
But a Fine Gael party meeting was last night dominated by the issue, with TDs expressing fears that they will never be forgiven if refunds are not issued.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the party had lost votes over water and it was time to "get this dead cat off the field".
He said the €120m per year required to pay for water is "not significant" given that the State's budget is €58bn.
The Expert Commission on Water sounded the death knell for charges, and Fianna Fáil now wants an assessment to see if it would cost more to issue refunds averaging €165 per household or to pursue those who haven't paid.