Voters angry over water levy, admits Gilmore
TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has admitted for the first time that Labour candidates are getting criticised on the doorsteps over the introduction of water charges.
Mr Gilmore accepted that the charges are "making life difficult" for those canvassing support for his party ahead of the local and European elections.
He was speaking after a video emerged of a Labour candidate who was verbally abused over her party's record in government. Martina Genockey was reduced to tears after a number of individuals followed her out of an estate in Tallaght.
Asked yesterday if he accepts reports that Labour candidates are being targeted over water charges, Mr Gilmore replied: "I do actually. I think when there is an issue of public discussion, people want to know what the answer is, what it's going to be."
Meanwhile, Mr Gilmore was forced to clarify comments he made in the Dail which indicated that a so-called price freeze would be applied for the future.
Speaking in the Dail during Leaders' Questions, Mr Gilmore said that he was opposed to a scenario whereby there would be no increase in the unit cost of water.
"In regard to families, I agree there is a difference between using water to wash the car and using water to wash the children. That should be reflected in the regime which is put in place," he said.
"We need certainty about the years ahead. I have heard suggestions that the water charges will be a certain amount this year and double or triple that amount next year or the following year.
"Families should not be put in such a situation."
However, he later rejected reports that he had hinted about a potential price freeze.
He told reporters at the launch of Labour's local election campaign that he does not want to see charges spiral in 2015 and further years.
He said he had seen election posters which claim the annual cost for families will "double" in later years. "That's not going to be the case," he insisted.
Government sources last night indicated that securing agreement on water charges was still "very much on track" but that some issues were still not resolved.
It remains to be seen as to whether the charges will be agreed prior to the bank holiday weekend.
"We are getting there, but we aren't there yet. After all the disagreement, the last thing we need to do is rush this," said a government source.