Farrell demands Irish Water publish latest payment rates

Publication of new figures 'may embarrass those who backed introduction of water charges'

Claims by the acting Environment Minister Alan Kelly that payment rates to Irish water now stand at 70 per cent will only be confirmed when the controversial utility company publishes the latest payment figures - something it has so far failed to do.

This is the view of Sinn Féin councillor Mairéad Farrell, who is calling on Irish Water to publish its payment figures for the first quarter this year "without any further delay".

She said: "It is now a full month since the end of the first quarter of 2016 and we still have no figures for how many people paid their water bills." She added the lack of a "clear explanation" for the delay had led many to believe that the new figures "may embarrass those who backed the introduction of water charges in the first place", and would undermine the recent claims made by acting Minister Kelly.

She also said the delay must have "nothing to do with the ongoing negotiations for the formation of a government", adding that the majority of TDs elected in Galway West pledged to stop water charges and Irish Water.

The delay in the publication of new figures contrasts with previous publication rates. Payment figures for the fourth quarter of 2015 were published on January 14. Figures for the third quarter came out on October 22; while those for the second quarter - the first billing cycle after charges were introduced - were published on July 15.

Figures revealed in October showed that 45 per cent of people did not pay the bill, while more recent claims of a 61 per cent payment rate have been challenged by various TDs.

Cllr Farrell, who described the delay as "unacceptable", said the delay also serves to "compound the public’s lack of trust in the utility company".

"Galway saw a significant amount of opposition to the installation of water meters and big numbers at demonstrations held both locally and nationally," she said. "The people who went out publicly to stand against this unfair tax deserve better than Irish Water spokespersons shrugging their shoulders when pressed on this undue delay in releasing public information."

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