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'Pay your water bills,' chief whip tells TDs

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Regina Doherty: 'The bills are not going to magically disappear and I would advise people, whether they’re elected or not, to pay.' Photo: Tom Burke

Regina Doherty: 'The bills are not going to magically disappear and I would advise people, whether they’re elected or not, to pay.' Photo: Tom Burke

Regina Doherty: 'The bills are not going to magically disappear and I would advise people, whether they’re elected or not, to pay.' Photo: Tom Burke

Two Independent TDs who back the Fine Gael minority Government are coming under increasing pressure to pay their water charges, with Chief Whip Regina Doherty warning them that the bills won't "magically disappear".

Super junior minister Finian McGrath and Waterford TD John Halligan have both said they oppose water charges and will not be paying the bills.

Three other Independent members of the minority Government - Communications Minister Denis Naughten, Children's Minister Katherine Zappone and Clare deputy Dr Michael Harty - last night confirmed that they are in compliance with the law on water charges.

But Mr Halligan remained defiant and questioned why Ms Doherty was advising him to pay as he believes that the charges will be abolished in nine months anyway.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio, Ms Doherty warned: "The bills are not going to magically disappear and I would advise people, whether they're elected or not, to pay."

She added: "If and when we pass a new piece of legislation to suspend the law, it doesn't diminish the fact that it is the law and those outstanding bills need to be paid."

A spokesman for the Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten confirmed that he had paid his water charges.

Ms Zappone's spokesman said she paid for and serviced a private well and was not subject to water charges. He added that she had not applied for the €100 water-conservation grant.

Clare TD Dr Michael Harty told the Irish Independent that he was signed up to a rural group water scheme and therefore didn't have to pay charges.

He said: "I've been paying for the last 20 years" and also confirmed that he hadn't applied for the conservation grant, despite being entitled to.

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Mr Harty declined to offer an opinion on whether Mr McGrath or Mr Halligan should pay their charges.

Tipperary TD Michael Lowry - who also supported the minority government - did not respond to attempts to contact him on the matter.

Independent Alliance TDs Shane Ross (the Transport Minister), Seán Canney and Kevin 'Boxer' Moran have previously confirmed they are in compliance with water laws.

Mr Halligan last night reiterated: "I'm not paying my water rate. I've made that quite clear." He said the Dáil was likely to abolish the charges when the commission examining the issue reports in nine months.

"I can't understand why she (Ms Doherty) is bringing it up when it's going to be voted out by the Dáil," he added.


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