Monday 20 November 2017

Taoiseach: Sinn Féin and left-wing groups in Dáil 'are holding up water charges refunds'

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

Kevin Doyle in Seattle

Sinn Féin and left-wing groups in the Dáil will be to blame if almost a million householders don’t get their water charges refund in time for Christmas, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Amid growing doubt over when refunds of up to €325 per family will be paid the Taoiseach said the Government wants the issue dealt with as quickly as possible.

But he indicated those who opposed water charges in the first instance are now trying to drag out the process beyond December.

In an interview with the ‘Sunday Independent’ shortly after taking over as Taoiseach, Mr Varadkar promised that every household would get their money back by Christmas.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

He say there would be a small number of exceptions such as people who had moved addressed but the vast majority would be refunded.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has prepared legislation allowing for refunds but a significant number of amendments are being sought as it works its way through the Oireachtas.

Read more: Rail strike 'will probably be no different than if there'd be no strike at all' - Varadkar

Speaking in Seattle, Mr Varadkar said: “I think what I said was as soon as possible and ideally before the end of the year but Minister Murphy and I said the refunds were always contingent on the legislation going through the Dail and the Seanad where we don't have a majority. We are a minority Government.”

He said Irish Water are ready to start the refunds “right away” and issue money to 30,000 customers a day.

“The only thing that is holding up the refunds is the fact that the Water Services Bill hasn't gone through the Dáil and I really would call on those parties, Sinn Fein and some of the left wings parties, who aren't supporting that legislation to change their mind, to support it and let's get that legislation through and start the refunds.”

Mr Varadkar added: “They are holding up the refunds.”

It is estimated that refunds will cost the Exchequer around €170m.

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