Updated: 30/11/16 : 10:05:16
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Water protests to continue - Murphy

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy has said his group will continue to protest over water charges, with discussions under way for a major rally in the new year.

He wants to see water charges abolished but believes this week's report from the expert commission on the future funding of domestic water supplies leaves the door open for the future introduction of full charges.

RTÉ reports that the commission has recommended that normal household usage should be paid for by the State in the form of general taxation.

Under its proposals, the commission says the "vast majority" of people will no longer have to pay water charges.

However, it suggests there should be a charge for excessive use.

Protests will continue "because the notion of charges for excessive use of water is in reality a trojan horse for the re-introduction of full charges", Mr Murphy said.

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney has said the water metering programme will continue to monitor water usage.

Speaking on the same programme, Mr Coveney said the commission's report is "very supportive of the metering programme from the point of view of fixing leaks".

The minister added: "We can't charge for the wastage of water unless we're actually measuring what people are using, so yes, of course, this report is very strong in its support for metering which I think is important".

A special Oireachtas committee will now consider the recommendations.

The minister said there are 20 members of the Oireachtas on the committee, with every political grouping and party represented.

They have three months to work through the recommendations of the report and to bring recommendations to the Dáil for a vote, he said.

Mr Murphy said there is a lot in the commission's report that "blows apart the Government's argument"; the "recognition that people already pay for water through general taxation, recognition that our consumption is significantly lower than in the UK where they have had charges" and also their view that "recognition that it's not up to the European Commission to say whether or not charges have to imposed or not".

Increased investment in water, he said, could come from the introduction of a financial transaction tax. He claimed it would raise €500 million, saying it was more than comes in from current water charges.

He also big organisations should pay increased corporation tax or it could come from the introduction of a wealth tax on net assets exceeding a million euros.