Monday 5 December 2016

Two Government TDs confirm they have not paid water bills

Published 09/05/2016 | 02:30

Independent TDs Finian McGrath has revealed that he has not paid the water charge Photo: Tom Burke
Independent TDs Finian McGrath has revealed that he has not paid the water charge Photo: Tom Burke

Two Independent Alliance TDs who have signed up to support the Government have confirmed that they haven't paid water charges.

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Finian McGrath - who has been appointed as a 'Super Junior' minister - and John Halligan have both said they oppose water charges and have not paid. Their position puts them at odds with the majority of Government TDs.

Fine Gael has encouraged the continued payment of bills despite a commitment to suspend charges while a commission examines their future.

Mr McGrath made the admission on RTÉ Radio yesterday.

"I have to put my hands up... No I didn't pay my water charges," he said when asked about the matter by presenter Brendan O'Connor.

He said he refused to pay because "I was very annoyed over the whole setting up of Irish Water and the handling of it and the incompetence of what happened and the amount of money that went into it.

"But I also had a problem in relation to water charges. I was always involved in that campaign over many many years, so I haven't paid."

The Government has committed to establishing a commission to examine the future of water charges. It is due to report back in nine months.

Mr McGrath was asked if he would pay if the commission recommends that charges remain in place. He replied that he would "go with the democratic wishes of Dáil Éireann" after the matter was voted on.

His Waterford colleague John Halligan confirmed that he had not paid the charges either.

"I'm like hundreds of thousands of other people that haven't paid it and many politicians," he told the Irish Independent.

Longford-Westmeath's Kevin 'Boxer' Moran - also a member of the group - said: "I've always paid my water bills."

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Shane Ross confirmed he had also paid his water bill.

Meanwhile, Siptu president Jack O'Connor says he will work with Mr Ross in a "constructive" manner, despite the new minister once describing him as a "waffler".

Mr O'Connor told the Irish Independent last night that he had no agenda and would do his best to "engage" with Mr Ross and other members of the Government.

In 2013, Mr Ross asked his Twitter followers if anybody could name somebody to beat Mr O'Connor as "waffler of the year".

Writing in his 'Sunday Independent' column this weekend, Mr Ross said he had "history" with the Siptu leader.

"God knows how the bearded trade unionist Jack O'Connor and I will get on if we ever have to sit across the table over the Luas strike or any other dispute. Everyone says he is really nice, committed guy, but we have a bit of a history," he wrote.

However, Mr O'Connor rejected the idea that their past would have any effect on future negotiations.

Irish Independent

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