herald

Friday 2 December 2016

Government dropped ball on bins, not me - Kelly

Alan Kelly
Alan Kelly

Former Environment Minister Alan Kelly has slammed efforts to blame him for the bin charge debacle.

The Labour TD took aim at the Taoiseach, Minister Simon Coveney, and any detractors who sought to blame him for the fiasco.

He defended the decision he took when minister to sign the statutory instrument bringing in pay-by-weight charges.

"The Government dropped the ball. Everyone knew pay-by-weight bin charges were coming in (but) there was 'nobody at home' for the past three months," Mr Kelly claimed.

"We saw the farcical situation where it started off with Simon Coveney and it ended up with Denis Naughten [in charge of waste]."

Minister Coveney was supposed to be in charge but the Taoiseach said yesterday that Minister Naughten had now taken it over, he added.

"What way is that to run a Government? Where there is no functioning Department of the Environment. There's been no minister at home."

He claimed that Minister Coveney changed the pricing structure and this gave an opening to the industry to hike charges.

"The simple fact is there was no monitoring in the industry. I commenced the process but unfortunately I wasn't in a position to be in government to conclude that process," Mr Kelly (left) said.

Mr Coveney has since done a deal with the waste firms that freezes prices for a year. There will be a public awareness campaign about pay-by-weight over the next six months.

From January, bills will show the existing price and what the price will be under pay-by-weight and the situation will be reassessed by the government in a year's time.

Last night, Fianna Fail asked Mr Coveney to introduce a waiver scheme for households with lower incomes and families with babies that need to dispose of nappies.

Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor also called on him to ensure fair pricing for apartment dwellers.

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