Mixed reaction to water charges as deadline passes

Demonstrators took the streets of Longford last weekend to protest about water charges. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie
Indifferent was perhaps the best metaphor used to sum up local taxpayers’ opinions on Monday as the deadline to register with Irish Water lapsed.

Indifferent was perhaps the best metaphor used to sum up local taxpayers’ opinions on Monday as the deadline to register with Irish Water lapsed.

Some of the dozen or so shoppers we spoke to said they had no intention of handing over their details to the water utility.

Others, meanwhile, who did register by the close of business on Monday, hinted at witholding their annual flat charge of €160.

Susan Hussey was one of those. She said there were a number of issues she still had reservations over.

“I am big time,” she said when asked by the Leader if she was skeptical about the new charges.

“It is a step too far. It’s crazy at this stage because nobody can afford it.”

If there was apathy among certain sections of Longford’s shopping public on Monday, the same argument could be levelled at the amount of disinterest among others.

One woman who declined to speak at any length on the topic, said she was unconcerned about the charges as she was renting her property.

For the likes of Margaret Dawson Baxter however, the revised legislation which was announced by Environment Minister Alan Kelly last November made perfect sense.

She said claims which appeared to suggest monies taken in by Irish Water would not go towards improving infrastructure were wide of the mark.

“If you understand the financing that’s proposed for it, it has to go because unless they have a certain level of income they can’t borrow,” she said.

“The idea is they can borrow to develop the level of infrastructure.

“I think they (charges) are moderate but with that said I think the regional charges were ridiculous.”

Those comments were made in the wake of a second water charges protest to be held in Longford inside the space of three months.

Though much smaller than its corresponding rally last October, a crowd of around 60 protestors turned out on Saturday in opposition to the charges.

“It was a small crowd,” admitted local organiser Tena Keown. “But that’s not to say people have lost faith in it.

Ms Keown, who has already sent back two Irish Water registration packs, said Irish Irish Water was obliged to notify homeowners two days before the installation of meters took place.