Following controversy, Finian McGrath agrees to pay his water charges

New minister had earlier said he would seek Attorney General's advice before deciding whether to pay

A newly appointed junior minister who had refused to pay his water charges has now agreed to do so.

Independent TD Finian McGrath had faced criticism earlier this week after saying he would ask for Attorney General Máire Whelan's advice on the matter. 

In a statement this evening, the minister of state with special responsibility for disability issues said his initial decision had become "a significant distraction to other important work".

However, he said he continued to find the manner in which Irish Water was set up "personally unacceptable".  

"I’m still deeply sceptical about the motives and the ability of the service to deliver," he said.

"There are also affordability issues too and I certainly felt there was a lack of insight demonstrated by the previous government as regards people’s everyday financial struggles.

"There are many examples of this including leaving families to their own devices as regards replacing lead pipes in their homes and not taking into account the significant additional water requirements of many families who have members with a special need requirement.    

"However, I recognise that recent government negotiations which I was involved in have brought forward a mechanism to review the provision of water and its infrastructure.  

"It will be crucial for the review to take into account the positions of people who have paid their charges as they should not be disadvantaged.  

"The issue will be argued on the floor of Dáil Eireann at which point a democratic decision will be arrived at.

"I have fought for many issues over the course of my career but none more so than the issues facing our country today including homelessness, health and care of the elderly, cystic fibrosis, education, small businesses and of course rights and services for people with disabilities as well as many other issues.  

"I now find myself in a position where I have the opportunity to oversee real development and policies in our areas of need.  I have a responsibility to try my best to deliver for the people who are relying on me in these areas.  

"I know that priorities must be set and I do not believe that my not paying the water charge at this stage will greatly alter the situation for Irish Water. The debate has moved on and it will be a matter for Dáil Eireann in due course."