Updated: 03/12/16 : 07:09:14
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Sligo/Leitrim TD calls for equity in water supply

If the State is going to meet most Irish Water bills, then people living in rural Ireland who have their own septic tanks should receive a State grant to pay for the costs of dealing with sewage, a Minister of State has said.

Sean Canney also said that if Irish Water is to refund customers who have already paid for drinking water, then equal refunds must be made to those who paid for private group water schemes.

Mr Canney said it would be unfair if hundreds of small estates and thousands of individual homes in rural Ireland were faced with often significant costs of running small treatment plants, and were then forced to pay for water services a second time through general taxation.

He said the push for water charges to be paid for out of general taxation was “coming from Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil, but has not been thought through”.

However, Sinn Féin TD for Sligo/Leitrim Martin Kenny, has rejected that his party wants to penalise rural dwellers.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “Sinn Féin’s position is that equity should be applied in the supply of water and that no one should be paying for the consumption of domestic water, which is a human right.”

Mr Kenny added that members of group water schemes had strongly opposed any attempt to privatise water: “This is another attempt to create an urban-rural divide, but it will fail, like the attempt to introduce water charges has failed.”

Sinn Féin’s budget proposals would invest €200 million for water infrastructure, along with an extra €1.5 million subsidy for people served by private water group schemes.