Wednesday 20 September 2017

Noonan 'won't budge' over water grant

Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan

Niall O'Connor and Sam Griffin

Finance Minister Michael Noonan is unwilling to budge over his stringent opposition to proposals to revamp the €100 Water Conservation Grant, the Irish Independent understands.

Mr Noonan fears linking the grant to the payment of bills could isolate householders on group water schemes, as well as those with private wells or septic tanks.

These households don't pay directly to Irish Water because they contribute to the running of their own water schemes.

Sources last night insisted Mr Noonan blocked the proposal, which had been tabled by Environment Minister Alan Kelly in November, because of concern over depriving the 300,000 such households of the €100 grant.

The Coalition instead chose to provide the grant to every household that registers with Irish Water - regardless of whether they have paid their bills.

"These households have been paying for their own water for years. The proposals that were being tabled threatened to cause chaos," said a Department of Finance source.

The prospect of linking the grant to payment caused serious tensions between Fine Gael and Labour.

When pressed on the issue, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe insisted that relations between the Government parties remain sound.

"There is no rift in the Government on this issue. Our efforts are in ensuring the success of Irish Water so that water services upon which we rely are protected into the future," he said.

"The Government is united in wanting to make sure that Irish Water works, that we improve where we are with enrolment and compliance with people enrolling with Irish Water and paying their bills, and also now making sure that Irish Water moves to doing the work it was set up to do," he said.

He pledged it would improve people's water supply, and deal with issues like flooding.

"The Government is united in making sure that happens."

Irish Independent

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