Water tax warning; Protest alert on charges by stealth.
Byline: FERGHAL BLANEY Political Reporter
IRISH Water has been warned it faces another public revolt if it tries to reintroduce tap levies by the back door.
The controversial utility's bosses were before the Oireachtas planning committee in Leinster House yesterday.
It has been claimed the new "excessive charge" to be unveiled in May next year will in fact be the reintroduction of water charges by stealth.
Solidarity TD Mick Barry said if the Government and Irish Water try to bring in the "sneaky" levies they will be met with renewed mass protests. Speaking after the meeting, he added: "It's clear to me there are those in the political establishment that want to see the first steps towards reintroducing water charges by the back door and we want to let it be known we will resist that.
"They say only 10% will be hit by the new charges but the Dail under the legislation will have the power to reduce that threshold, albeit only after five years, but that clock is already ticking.
"What we will see is water charges mark II if the political establishment continues to drive this agenda.
"If they attempt to bring back water charges by the back door, we believe there will be huge resistance."
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets and forced the Government into backing down on the Mick Barry levies after they were introduced in 2014.
Mr Barry also warned the charges will again be a major issue in the next general election.
Meanwhile, the committee hearing heard concerns from Sinn Fein TD Eoin O Broin that the loss of 1,300 jobs in water services over the next three years could affect the water supply.
He added: "While Irish Water confirmed there would be no compulsory redundancies, even a voluntary redundancy scheme on this scale could have serious implications for the provision of services for the public."
CONCERNS Mick Barry