Belfast Telegraph

Water charges 'modest': Burton

An average family will pay less than 200 euro in water charges, Tanaiste Joan Burton has announced.

During another day of sharp exchanges in the Dail about the controversial levy, the Labour leader described the imminent bills as modest and necessary to update the water network.

Ms Burton, the social protection minister, was accused by Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins of forcing a family of four, including an 18 and 19-year-old, to pay just under 500 euro in water charges.

The Dublin West TD said a family of five would have to pay under 600 euro.

But Ms Burton said there was a lot of scaremongering about the levy, adding: "I am perfectly happy to say that it is my view that the charge in relation to the type of family and household you have indicated will be below 200 euro."

The Government has already signalled it will revise the water charges after around 150,000 people took to the streets over the weekend in a wave of mass nationwide protests.

Alan Kelly, Environment Minister, indicated a new charging system would be drawn up over the next two weeks after meeting with Irish Water bosses.

But despite continued calls for the bills to be abolished altogether or at least shelved until a review is carried out, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dail the Government would press ahead with them.

"The Government will not drop the water contribution charges, but what the Government will do, having listened to the people, is bring in a regime that is clear, that is fair, that is affordable," he said.

Facing demands to "step down" the utility, Mr Kenny said, on the contrary, it is time for Irish Water to "step up" and deal with a water network that has been neglected for years.

Mr Kenny again insisted water charges were necessary if the government was to avoid raising taxes or cutting services to fund the 850 million euro set up costs for the utility company.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said the 150,000 people taking part in Saturday's protests were angry at the arrogance and detached nature of the government and its inability to listen.

Mr Martin, Mr Higgins and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams all said people can not afford to pay the water charges.

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