Minister for Environment says everyone will pay "one way or the other"
Minister for Environment Alan Kelly has said “one way or the other, everyone will end up having to pay” their Irish Water bill, while the Taoiseach has denied that the low payment figures is a mess.
Those who haven’t paid their bills yet, and don’t intend to pay them at all are “being led up the garden path” by the leaders of the anti-water charges movement, Mr Kelly alleged. "They're going to have to write cheques for a lot of people who have been taking their advice," he said.
The Labour TD attacked those opposing the charge, saying people following the “militant” opposition should “look at Syriza in Greece.”
Listen below to the entire interview with Alan Kelly on The Pat Kenny Show
The news that just 46% of Irish Water bills have been paid so far has raised questions about the utility, but Mr Kelly insisted, repeatedly, to The Pat Kenny Show that he is “hugely satisfied with this figure.”
“I want to get this message out quite loud and clear. I am hugely satisfied with this figure,” he told Pat.
Enda Kenny today thanked those who have paid, while speaking in the Dáil, and said that more will do so.
The figure is ahead of the household charge at the same time, Mr Kelly said, and ahead of comparable water charges in Europe and Britain at similar points in their life cycle/set-up period.
The idea that there would be total compliance, for any bill, was “never going to happen”, he said.
“That was never going to happen, it doesn’t happen with the TV license. There’s still 17 per cent of people who don’t pay that.”
Regarding those who don’t intend to pay, Mr Kelly said they will pay “one way or another”, and said the blame for the eventual high bills would rest with those leaders of the anti-water charge movement who had encouraged non-payment.
“If (people) do not pay it there will be penalties. If they continue not paying ... eventually they will end up paying it one way or another.
“I’m afraid those bills will be quite large and they will have been led up the garden path,” he said.
The prospect of the utility being dismantled, at any stage, was summarily dismissed. “The concept of having Irish water is here for good,” he said.
“We have to do this, in years to come – if I didn’t go down this road – you would be asking someone who succeeds me ‘why do we have a crisis in water?’”
Paul Murphy of the Anti-Austerity Alliance, and one of the central figures opposing the water charge, will be on The Right Hook this evening to give his reaction the news that less than half of all Irish Water bills have been paid, and the Government reaction to the news.