Saturday 17 March 2018

Varadkar: 'Water controversy won't be put to bed easily'

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Leo Varadkar has predicted that controversy over water won't "be put to bed easily", despite the report of the Independent Commission recommending the effective scrapping of charges.

The Commission's draft report says that householders will only have to pay bills if they engage in "wasteful usage".

It also recommends that the State becomes a "customer" of Irish Water and that families' supply is paid for through general taxation.

Mr Varadkar didn't concede that water charges will be all but gone in light of the Commission's report.

He said he hasn't seen the report yet and that: "Obviously Fine Gael as a party will have to discuss that with our TDs and Senators before we respond to it."

Mr Varadkar said his understanding of the proposals is that "water charges be paid for through general taxation up to a certain amount, that amount being determined by the regulator and after that people would be charged for the excess".

He again pointed out that he hasn't seen the report and said that Fine Gael will consider its recommendations. He said all parties must be allowed "to discuss it and respond to it in due course".

Asked if the Commission's report will finally put the issue to bed, Mr Varadkar replied: "I think given the nature of Irish politics its not an issue that will be put to bed easily.

"But what's more important than putting any political issue to bed in terms of controversy is doing the right thing for the country in the long term.

"And that means having the resources to invest in our water network, invest in our sewerage network, which is the other side of this which is often not talked about, to conserve water and to be fair in the way we pay for it."

Mr Varadkar was speaking at the West Dublin plant of US pharmaceutical company West where he was joined by jobs minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor.

The firm this morning announced 100 new jobs in Ireland. Ms Mitchell O'Connor welcomed the announcement of 700 new jobs three different companies in Dublin today. Voxpro is to employ 400 more staff and there will be a further 200 jobs at LinkedIn

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