Government under pressure over cost of paying out €100 water charge grant
THE €100 grant towards the new water charges will be paid on time next September to everyone who has paid their water bill, Tanaiste Joan Burton insisted today.
Ms Burton, who as Social Protection Minister is responsible for the payment, came under pressure in the Dail from Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein to say how much it would cost to administer the scheme.
The Tanaiste said her department currently had a project team working on how to handle the payments and it was too early to give a precise cost.
Fianna Fail's Barry Cowen repeatedly challenged the Minister to give a precise figure.
Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald said that last October the Environment Minister Alan Kelly had said the new scheme would cost €130m to put into practice.
"It appears that this is not now the case and it will cost more than €130m," the Sinn Fein deputy leader said.
Ms Burton said the Social Protection Department efficiently handled 87 million payments each year and they would also effectively manage the €100 water payment.
The Tanaiste added that it may be necessary to update the computerised systems,which were developed in the 1980s and 1990s, to handle the new task.
The Tanaiste also condemned last week's public abuse of President Michael D Higgins by anti-water charge demonstrators at a protest in Finglas, Dublin.
Ms Burton said the office of President was above politics and the incident was "inappropriate and unwelcome".