Saturday 16 December 2017

Adams in embarrassing U-turn on water charges

Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein Justice spokesman Aengus O Snodaigh TD

Niall O'Connor and Philip Ryan

SINN Fein leader Gerry Adams has been forced to backtrack on claims he is not liable to pay the water charges.

Mr Adams has admitted he will foot the bill on his second home in Donegal - having earlier claimed he did not believe he had to pay the charges whatsoever.

Sinn Fein has been accused of adopting a "weak position" on the issue of water charges ahead of a major public rally planned for this weekend.

It has emerged several of the party's TDs and councillors are preparing to boycott the charges - despite an admission by the Sinn Fein leadership that they intend to pay up. The clear split in the party comes as Mr Adams appeared to perform a U-turn on his responsibility to pay.

Speaking to Shannonside Radio on Monday, Mr Adams said he did not believe he had to pay water charges because his family home was in Belfast.

"Well it doesn't affect me, in so far as, in the North where my family home is, Sinn Fein stopped water charges," he said.

But when asked by the Irish Independent if Mr Adams would pay water charges for his holiday home in Donegal and his two constituency offices, a Sinn Fein spokesman said the party leader would be paying the charge in all instances.

However, he will not be paying water charges for the house in Louth where he is registered to vote.

"Gerry will pay the water charge on his house in Donegal and his constituency office," he said. "The house in Co Louth in which he stays belongs to a friend, so this is not matter for Gerry," he added.

Speaking at the launch of the party's pre-budget submission in Dublin yesterday, senior Sinn Fein TDs Mary Lou McDonald, Pearse Doherty and Caoimhghin O Caolain said they will follow suit.

But the party's housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis and Dublin South West by-election candidate Cathal King insisted they will fight the charges.

"I intend to fight it all the way," Mr Ellis told the Irish Independent.

Sinn Fein TD Aengus O Snodaigh said he is "not inclined" to pay the bill on January 1 but he will consult his family before making a decision.

His party colleague Jonathan O'Brien said he has not decided yet if he will boycott the payment.

The divisions over whether to pay has been seized by the Anti-Austerity Alliance, which is mounting a strong challenge to secure the vacant Dail seat in Dublin South West through candidate Paul Murphy.

Mr Murphy's campaign manager and Dublin West TD Joe Higgins said the decision by the Sinn Fein leadership to pay the charges was "undermining" other members of the party. "It's clear they have a weak position on the issue of water charges," Mr Higgins said.

Irish Independent

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