Monday 23 January 2017

FF: waive bin fees for families with babies

Published 23/06/2016 | 02:30

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Picture: Tom Burke
Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Picture: Tom Burke

Fianna Fáil has called for bin charge waivers to be introduced for families who need to dispose of nappies and households with lower incomes.

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The call for an extension of waivers was made by Fianna Fáil's housing spokeswoman in the Seanad, Jennifer Murnane O'Connor.

"Fianna Fáil is calling on the minister to have a waiver scheme to be introduced for lower-income households and households with special needs who cannot afford to pay," she said.

She also called for this to be extended to "larger households who could be unduly affected by these charges, for example, families with young children, babies, nappies".

"That is a massive, massive issue for us in Fianna Fáil and for the people who have come to us," the Senator added.

In addition, Ms Murnane O'Connor asked for a further mechanism to be put in place for apartment dwellers "to ensure that they get fair pricing".

The reopening of the debate came less than a day after Mr Coveney had announced the deal with waste management companies that freezes prices for a year.

It also includes a waiver for 60,000 people who must dispose of incontinence wear provided by the HSE.

Under the deal, there is to be a public-awareness campaign about pay-by-weight over the next six months.

From January, bills will show the existing price, as well as what the price will be under pay-by-weight. The situation will be reassessed by the Government in a year's time.

Fianna Fáil has backed this deal, with its Dáil housing spokesman Barry Cowen saying there was now "an opportunity to use the next 12 months while the freeze is taking place for root and branch review of waste-management services".

He said that waivers for low-income households and large families with babies could "go into the mix" as part of this review, adding: "There would be consideration given to some form of waiver system for those with large families or particular circumstances."

Ms Murnane O'Connor told the Irish Independent she believed that the introduction of pay by weight was handled badly and she cited a lack of information about the move and price hikes.

"Going forward, we have to make sure that people are not paying more, that they're paying less," she added.

"Small babies with nappies - that's a major concern and it also needs to be addressed.

"We need to ensure that we help those that are most vulnerable and we have to make sure we look after them."

She made the call for more waivers in the Seanad during a failed attempt by Sinn Féin to annul the law that brought in pay-by-weight charging.

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh accused Fianna Fáil of facilitating the Government in defeating the motion.

"We asked for the support of all parties and none to help get rid of bad legislation. It is no surprise that the 'new politics' has an old look about it," he said afterwards.

During the debate, Ms Murnane hit out at Mr Ó Clochartaigh's party saying: "Sinn Féin never come up with answers.

"They are always, always coming up saying, 'Get rid of this, get rid of that.' We have to move forward here now."

Mr Coveney also spoke, arguing that if the Sinn Féin motion was successful it would "essentially annul a full series of tools that actually hold waste operators to account" and prevent "cowboy behaviour".

He accused Sinn Féin of trying to get "political gain" from the issue of bin charges.

Irish Independent

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