A local election candidate has called for honesty in the debate over water charges, criticising Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil for “rank hypocrisy” in the parties’ stance on the issue.
John Walsh, Fine Gael candidate in Galway City East, said the two parties had engaged in cynical, dishonest, rhetoric in relation to the introduction of water charges in recent weeks.
“Fianna Fáil has adopted a position opposing the introduction of water charges, neglecting to acknowledge that they signed a binding commitment to introduce water charges themselves while in government in 2010,” said Mr Walsh.
According to Walsh, Fianna Fail signed an agreement with the Troika to implement water charges as early as a year ago which would have taken the form of a flat tax in the absence of water meters. “The party’s complete departure from their previous commitment and sudden opposition to water charges is hugely hypocritical and comparable to a snake shedding its skin,” said the Fine Gael candidate.
“Similarly, Sinn Féin has been speaking out of both sides of its mouth in relation to governance on the island of Ireland,” continued Mr Walsh. “In the South, it has styled itself as the anti-austerity party, opposing every measure designed to cover the cost of running the country. But in the North, Sinn Féin in government has overseen the administration of household taxes amounting to an average of €900 per annum. The party opposed the introduction of Local Property Tax here but imposes an annual charge of around €1,428 on average homeowners in the North.”
Walsh said that while Sinn Fein has continually opposed all cuts to social welfare since the beginning of the economic crisis in the South, it has agreed to hundreds of millions of euro worth of welfare cuts in the North, imposing a cap on households receiving disability allowance.
“It is only right that there would be extensive debate on the issue of water charges and I have made representations to the highest level of government, seeking to ensure that the measure is introduced in a way that is as fair and reasonable as possible for households at all ends of the income spectrum,” said Mr Walsh. “But those participating in this debate need to do so with honesty and integrity; rather than seeking to mislead or misinform the public on the issue.”