Thursday 8 December 2016

Revealed: Finian McGrath says he will pay water charges

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Published 13/05/2016 | 17:59

Finian McGrath arriving for the Cabinet meeting at Government Buildings yesterday (Picture: Tom Burke)
Finian McGrath arriving for the Cabinet meeting at Government Buildings yesterday (Picture: Tom Burke)

Minister for Disabilities Finian McGrath is to pay his water charges after days of controversy, independent.ie understands.

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Mr McGrath has faced calls from his ministerial colleagues to pay the bill given his elevation to Cabinet.

He sought advice over the issue from Attorney General Máire Whelan.

However, it’s understood Mr McGrath has now told colleagues of his intention to pay his water charges.

Sources say he was concerned the issue was becoming a distraction from his brief.

Mr McGrath admitted this week that hasn't paid his charges because he is opposed to Irish Water and the way charges were implemented

Labour deputy leader Alan Kelly had criticised the Dublin North TD after he revealed he did not pay the charge.

In a statement this evening, Mr McGrath said the “manner in which Irish Water was set up and its approach remains personally unacceptable”. Mr McGrath said he was “deeply sceptical about the motives and the ability of the service to deliver”.

However, he said that a failure to pay the water charges “ will become a significant distraction to other important work and I’m determined that this will not be allowed to happen. 

“To that end, I will now regularise my situation with Irish Water and pay my charges."

 

The full statement of the Minister of State for Disability Finian McGrath

"The manner in which Irish Water was set up and its approach remains personally unacceptable to me. 

I’m still deeply sceptical about the motives and the ability of the service to deliver.  There are also affordability issues too and I certainly felt there was a lack of insight demonstrated by the previous government as regards people’s everyday financial struggles.

There are many examples of this including leaving families to their own devices as regards replacing lead pipes in their homes and not taking into account the significant additional water requirements of many families who have members with a special need requirement.    

However I recognise that recent government negotiations which I was involved in have brought forward a mechanism to review the provision of water and its infrastructure.

 It will be crucial for the review to take into account the positions of people who have paid their charges as they should not be disadvantaged.  The issue will be argued on the floor of Dáil Eireann at which point a democratic decision will be arrived at.

I have fought for many issues over the course of my career but none more so than the issues facing our country today including homelessness, health and care of the elderly, cystic fibrosis, education, small businesses and of course rights and services for people with disabilities as well as many other issues. 

I now find myself in a position where I have the opportunity to oversee real development and policies in our areas of need.  I have a responsibility to try my best to deliver for the people who are relying on me in these areas.  I know that priorities must be set and I do not believe that my not paying the water charge at this stage will greatly alter the situation for Irish Water. 

The debate has moved on and it will be a matter for Dáil Eireann in due course.  It is clear to me that not paying the charge will become a significant distraction to other important work and I’m determined that this will not be allowed to happen.  To that end I will now regularise my situation with Irish Water and pay my charges."

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