Sunday 8 December 2019

Ministers to share control of water charges

Alan Kelly TD. Picture: Tom Burke
Alan Kelly TD. Picture: Tom Burke

Fionnan Sheahan

RESPONSIBILITY for water charges will be split today between Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Environment Minister Alan Kelly today.

In a change of policy for the Government, the official ownership of Irish Water will be transferred to the Department of Finance.

Irish Water will come under the remit of the entity known as New Era and the State asset management fund, the National Treasury Management Agency. The policy area will remain with the Department of the Environment.

Regulation will stay with the Commission for Energy Regulation. The changeover will be discussed at today's meeting of the Cabinet.

Labour Party ministers and junior ministers held a meeting in Government Buildings yesterday, following their respective reshuffles.

Their counterparts in Fine Gael will meet this afternoon.

Tanaiste Joan Burton's meeting with all the Labour ministers focused on priorities over the coming months. But there was also a particular focus on Northern Ireland.

The Coalition ended a three-week dispute over concessions to be given to people on low incomes by agreeing a new compromise deal – which contains few changes of detail to the original deal tabled.

Labour insisted that it had achieved some important concessions and would now be explaining these on the doorsteps.

Water charges kick in from October 1 next with the first quarterly bills to be issued in January 2015. Households will still pay an average of €240 a year in water charges under a plan signed off on by the Government, even though the standing charge has been scrapped and children will get a free allowance.

However, there is still uncertainty over the size of the free allowance and whether it will actually cover the amount of water used by children.

Irish Independent

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