‘New measures to be included in environment bill’
Sligo News File Online
A local councillor has accused the government of planning to drive through ‘underhand’ laws aimed at penalising water users who don’t pay for the service.
Fianna Fail member of Sligo County Council Eamon Scanlon says the measures are to be inserted in what is known as the Environmental Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, a draft act designed to deal with
issues such as air and chemical pollution.
It is in this; a bill unrelated to water services, that the government is moving to slot the new penalties, claims Scanlon
He said, “The underhand way in which Minister Alan Kelly is forcing through this legislation is typical of the botched manner in which Irish Water was set up.
“The timing of the publication of the amendments is also deeply cynical as it will give little time for the opposition parties to properly debate the issues.”
Under imminent changes, “voluntary housing associations will become liable for water charges, even if their tenants don’t register or pay,” he said.
“This is deeply unfair and has the potential to jeopardise the smooth running of these organisations, and could see them fall foul of huge penalties. Ability to pay has been an issue that Fianna Fáil has urged the Government to consider – people living in homes run by housing associations are already in a vulnerable financial position and may not be able to afford to pay the new water charges.
“Now the Government is expecting these associations to pick up the tab, putting them in an extremely precarious position.”
He said the latest attempt by the Government to protect Irish Water – a “bonus driven super quango” – was “further proof that it has failed to learn the lessons of the past and is determined to ram through legislation in the Oireachtas.
“Fianna Fáil will be tabling amendments to try and ensure openness and transparency in the way that Irish Water is going about its business and to put an end to this dishonest way of doing politics.”