Sunday 25 September 2016

Two government TDs confirm they haven’t paid water bills

Published 08/05/2016 | 19:46

Finian McGrath . Photo: Tom Burke
Finian McGrath . Photo: Tom Burke
Independent TD Finian McGrath Photo: Tom Burke
Charlie Flanagan. 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 haven’t paid.

The position puts them at odd with the majority of government TDs.

Mr McGrath made the admission on RTE Radio.

“I have to put my hands up... No I didn’t pay my water charges,” 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.”

He indicated that he still intends to boycott the charges adding: “I believe that we have to fund services like water and health through general taxation. That’s my personal view.”

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 and he said he will “go with the democratic wishes of Dáil Éireann” after the matter is voted on.

His Waterford colleague John Halligan confirmed that he hasn’t paid the charges either.

“I’m like hundreds of thousands of other people that haven’t paid it and many politicians,” he told Independent.ie.

Longford-Westmeath’s Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran - also a member of the group - said: “I’ve always paid my water bills.”

He said he wouldn’t encourage people not to pay the bills but that “If they don’t want top pay their water charges that’s their own prerogative.” Another Independent Alliance TD - Seán Canney said the issue doesn’t apply to him as he pays into a rural group water scheme.

“I’m delighted to be able to pay for it,” the Galway East TD added saying he had previously has a rain water collection system at his home.

Meanwhile, Senior figures in both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have expressed confidence that the minority government arrangement can last.

Under the terms of the agreement, Fianna Fail will abstain in confidence and finance votes.

Speaking today, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said the new government would 'consult like no other'.

Speaking on the Week in Politics on RTE One, he said the Dail will play a 'hugely important role'.

He said the current government of Fine Gael and Independents will "survive on the basis of a programme of goodwill with Fianna Fáil".

Speaking on the same programme, Dara Calleary of Fianna Fail said he believes the new confidence arrangement can work.

He added that as the agreement does not stretch to cover legislation votes, "the Government will have to listen to the views of the Dáil and the Seanad".

However Sinn Fein slammed the arrangement, calling it a coalition 'in everything but name'.

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