Sinn Féin TD for Cork East Pat Buckley has condemned plans to introduce a charging regime for so-called excessive water use as “expensive and unnecessary”. He went on to describe the plan as the “thin end of wedge” as far as domestic water charges are concerned.

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Deputy Buckley said: “When charging for so-called ‘excessive use’ emerged as a result of backroom deal between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil as an effort to kill the issue of water charges in 2017, Sinn Féin opposed such a charge.

“We believe it is an action that is likely to lead to the introduction of universal metered domestic water charges in future by this government or another one.

“The introduction of such a charge also gives the impression that Irish people are wilfully wasting water when the truth is that, according to Irish Water’s own figures, household water consumption in this state is one of the lowest in the OECD.

“For example, in this State, we use an average of 123 litres per person per day, compared to England where people use on average 140 litres, in Sweden it is 200 litres, and in Italy it is 250 litres.

“The government hopes to raise €39m over five years via this charge. It will cost Irish Water more to collect this charge than the charge will raise - which makes no sense.

“If the government is really concerned about wasting water, it needs to look at the water flowing out of leaks in the public system, where up to 47% of water is lost.

“It should also focus on helping families who discover a leak to fix it as opposed to punishing them.

“I cautiously welcome media reports in the Irish Examiner this week that the first fix scheme is set to be ‘substantially enhanced’.

“This is where the government’s focus should be; not wasting more public money collecting an unnecessary charge.”

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