Fitzmaurice opposes Cowen free water for all proposal

‘I cannot stand by and allow situation…where water can be wasted willy nilly without someone having to pay for it.’

Sligo councillor says Fianna Fail not to blame for charges.

Sligo News File

Michael Fitzmaurice’s call for the retention of water charges will most probably fall on deaf ears.

Michael Fitzmaurice, TD
Roscommon -South Leitrim

The Independent Roscommon TD asserts that everyone should have to pay for usage above an agreed allowance.

However, his statement omits to mention that people have been doling out for piped water ever since VAT was increased years ago to pay for the service. He also fails to mention that householders served by group schemes were entitled to receive 49,500 gallons annually free of charge for domestic usage.

What then is his beef about the Exchequer – towards which every taxpayer in contributing – continuing to pick up the bill for the country’s water services?

It seems from what he has to say that his concern is water wastage. He doesn’t elaborate as to what he considers is wastage; instead, he takes issue with a comment of Fianna Fail spokesman Barry Cowen who proposed that people should be allowed to use whatever amount of water they liked without penalty.

“That’s just ludicrous and makes no absolutely sense,” says Fitzmaurice – in spite of the fact Cowen has not said people should be free to waste supplies. 

He grumbles, “where are we going to get the 10 billion Euro that we need to spend on the system into the future?” His statement does not identify the ‘bookkeeper’ who came up with that figure or the period to which the €10 billion relates. It rings fanciful, especially so if the service were to be operated efficiently and with just the required number of workers on board.

He states that as an opposition TD he will not be popular for saying what he has said “but I cannot stand by and allow a situation to come about where water can be wasted willy nilly without someone having to pay for it.”

He is, of course, free to agree with himself. But it is the people who will decide, and in street protests, they have already spoken and demonstrated in the hundreds of thousands that charges or metering on any account is out of the question.

Cllr. Tommy MacSharry, Fianna Fail

Meanwhile, over in Sligo, Fianna Failer Tommy MacSharry has locked horns with his Fine Gael colleague Tony McLoughlin over which party introduced water charges.

As it happens, McLoughlin is correct, Fianna Fail were the instigators of the water charges when they agreed to roll out the levies in a pact with the Troika. Fianna Fail also agreed to establish what is now the Irish Water utility. As well, the party hammered rural dwellers with provisions for water charges when charges for water had been abolished in town and cities of the country. They also went on to press Sligo County Council to meter the water supplies of rural group water users – and to charge for the meters.  

Tony McLoughlin, TD,
Fine Gael, Sligo-Leitrim

Obviously, Fine Gael are not entirely blameless. They implemented the charges and metering which Fianna Fail signed up to in the deal with the Troika. No kudos, therefore, are owed to either lot. Additionally, both parties in government have played a huge part in busting the balls of the rural economy.