Water refunds in the post for 180,000 households
An Post insists it can cope with Christmas and polling cards
Cheques should be in the post for as many as 180,000 households as Irish Water has begun the process of issuing refunds to customers.
Almost a million households are due to get as much as €325 in refunds under the political deal that all but scrapped charges.
Overall an estimated €150m is to be returned to people's pockets by the end of the year, a cash injection that will be a major boost to retailers as consumers hit the shops before Christmas.
Meanwhile, An Post insisted that it has the capacity to deliver the 998,000 cheques without delay. That's despite the possibility that 3m polling cards may have to be issued due to the feared general election ahead of Christmas - An Post's busiest time of the year.
President Michael D Higgins signed the Water Services Bill into law last week, meaning Irish Water was able to begin sending out the refunds.
There were delays in the legislation passing through the Dail, with Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy earlier this month blaming opposition TDs for tabling large amounts of amendments and repeating speeches they'd previously given. Charges have been abolished for all but excessive water usage at the recommendation of an Oireachtas Committee set up to thrash out a deal on the divisive issue.
It was decided that refunds would be sent to people who paid charges so that they wouldn't be treated unfairly compared to those who had refused.
The refunds process began last Monday with 5,000 cheques being processed that day, escalating to 45,000 cheques per day by Thursday. "By the end of the first week 180,000 cheques will have been processed," an Irish Water spokesperson said.
Cheques are to be printed six days a week with 45,000 a day being issued from now on.
"It is anticipated that given this schedule that almost 90pc of refund cheques will be issued by the end of the year," the spokesperson added.
With an election looming, An Post faces the prospect of coping with a seasonal upsurge, water refunds, and more than three million polling cards in the coming weeks.
However, a spokesperson insisted there is no question in relation to its "proven ability to deliver these volumes" and said the organisation is "absolutely" confident it can deliver the level of mail involved. She said that 2.5m items are delivered on an average day. Irish Water refunds are being issued to customers at their last known address. People who have moved home must inform Irish Water to receive their cheque by calling 1850 448 448. Anyone wanting to see how much they will receive and when their refund is expected can visit the Irish Water Refund Checker at water.ie/refunds.