Belfast Telegraph

Backlash deepens over water charges

The backlash over planned water charges has deepened after campaigners warned of a one million strong household boycott.

As Taoiseach Enda Kenny was accused of sending mixed messages over threats to cut off non-payers' supplies, a mass of residents' committees nationwide warned they would not pay.

Under pressure over the metering plan, the Taoiseach first said homes would be disconnected if bills were ignored before he attempted to row back on his words amid angry attacks from the opposition.

"It's very important that people understand that good and careful and prudent use of water like that should not result in anybody getting into difficulty," he said.

The Taoiseach was accused of muddying the waters over the new charges, due to come into effect in 2014 at the earliest.

It has been previously reported that the Government could allocate 40 litres of water per day free to each household. Any water used on top of that would be charged.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said: "The Government is so gung-ho in forcing out levy after levy that the Taoiseach doesn't know what he's telling people."

And with no Government guidance on costs for water, the Association of Combined Residents' Associations warned its members would not pay any tax on the family home.

"Our members up and down the country are already pinned to the collar trying to survive," said spokesman Malachy Steenson. "We successfully made the household tax one of the biggest campaigns in recent decades. Water charges will be even more forcefully opposed."

Households will be asked to pay water charges, as determined by meters that will be fitted outside the home with the occupier not required to grant access. There will also be an annual standing charge to cover the cost of supplies.

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