Belfast Telegraph

Row over contaminated water bills

Tens of thousands of people face the "monstrous" predicament of having to pay bills for water which is contaminated, Enda Kenny has been warned.

In the Dail's first day back after its summer break, the Taoiseach was repeatedly asked if he stood over Irish Water bills being sent to homes where the supply has been deemed not fit for human consumption.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said it was monstrous that families were to be charged for something that could make them sick.

"If water going into a household is contaminated, is not fit for human consumption, how then can you charge that family?" he said.

"It's monstrous ... if the water you are being asked to pay for is dangerous, causes you to get sick, seriously ill, is contaminated, but yet the authorities say you are going to have to pay for it as well, adding insult to injury.

"It is arrogance of the highest order, it is illogical and incomprehensible."

There are 36,000 homes around the country whose water is deemed not fit for consumption unless it is boiled. Around 21,000 of these are in Co Roscommon.

Mr Martin said there was enormous confusion and anger across the Midlands about claims and counter-claims from Fine Gael about water bill exemptions for those affected by contaminated water.

"Most objective observers would say there should be a complete exemption from Irish Water bills for people who cannot drink contaminated water," he said.

But Mr Kenny accused Mr Martin of hypocrisy, accusing his party of leaving the people of Roscommon to languish for 40 years with poor water.

Fianna Fail's plans were for higher charges, to be introduced sooner and with no exemptions at all, he said.

The Taoiseach said the energy regulator would reveal next week whether householders hit by boil water notices would have to pay the full charges.

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