People who fail to pay their water charges will be cut off, says Kenny
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny yesterday warned people they will have their water cut off if they fail to pay their charges.
He told the Dail it would be part of the "matters for discussion" when the system was set up and pointed out that anybody who did not pay their electricity bill or phone bill was cut off
But speaking later after the announcement of 500 jobs in Dublin and Galway, Mr Kenny moved to play down the prospect of people's water supply being cut off if they could not afford to pay the charges.
"It's very important that people understand that good and careful and prudent use of water like that should not result in anybody getting into the difficulty that you refer to," he said.
Although it is a politically sensitive issue, Mr Kenny cannot rule out the prospect of non-payers being cut off because that would mean there would be no incentive for anybody to pay the new water charges.
Mr Kenny promised that there would be a free allowance but declined to say it if would be the same as the allowance, worth a single washing machine cycle, promised by previous environment minister John Gormley.
He said the size of the free water allowance was something the Government would decide in due course -- as he pointed out that there would be no bills until 2014 at the earliest.
Mr Kenny also gave an assurance that there would be no job losses among the 3,000 local authority staff working in water services due to the setting up of the new Irish Water body. But that does not mean that all these staff will transfer to the new quango -- some may be redeployed to other jobs in local authorities.
The assurance came after Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin warned there had been 800 job losses when water services were privatised in the North.
Mr Kenny was also put on the defensive in the Dail as the opposition attacked him about the communications mix-up about the water charges and the failure to specify how much householders would have to pay.
Mr Martin said it had been a shambolic and farcical situation.
"There are no detailed costings, no details on exemptions and no details on how the Government expects to put water meters into all households by 2014, which would require an installation rate of 4,000 per day," he said.
Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was most astonishing that Mr Kenny would not rule out the prospect of cutting off water supplies to homes.