Ireland gives green light to abolishing water charges

The government of the Irish Republic has approved the priority drafting of legislation that will abolish water charges, except in cases of excessive use. Charges were suspended after last year’s election. Water charging was a key issue at the polls.

The proposed bill will implement the recommendations of the

committee on the future funding of domestic water services.

Under the planned legislation the water charges brought in by the former Fine Gael-Labour government are to be discontinued.

Unpaid bills and late payment charges previously applied to households are to be scrapped. There is to be provision for a new levy for domestic customers that use water excessively, with the threshold for such charges to be set at 1.7 times the average usage. Certain households, including those with special medical needs, will get waivers.

The legislation will allow for refunds for households that have paid water charges. However, the details are still being worked out by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Irish Water and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The bill is due to be published and introduced to the Oireachtas this month (June) and is expected to be passed by both houses of the Irish parliament before the summer recess.