Homeowners should decide if water meters dug up, says Murphy
A leading member of the anti-water charges movement has said individual households should dictate whether meters remain in the ground.
Dublin South West TD Paul Murphy, who sits on the Oireachtas water committee, said a process should be put in place whereby families can apply to Irish Water to have their meters removed.
The Anti Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit TD also dismissed the notion that the meters are essential for detecting leaks.
In an interview with the Herald, Mr Murphy insisted that households opposed to water meters remaining in their locality should decide if they remain installed.
"People are now entitled to say: 'You put in a water meter, perhaps against my wishes, perhaps when the family was out at work or school or whatever, and now we don't want this anymore'. I think that's reasonable," Mr Murphy said.
"The Government has been guilty of overplaying the benefits and the importance of meters for detecting leaks.
"They [the expert commission] see that, OK in theory they could play a role, but they also point to district meters in being the key. So there is lots of ways of finding water leaks without having individual meters."
He said he believes the majority of people will seek to have their meters removed but that an application process should be put in place regardless. Asked what use should be made of meters that are removed from the ground at a household's request, Mr Murphy replied: "That's up to the Government and Irish Water".
Mr Murphy said that the future of water charges - which will be subject to a Dail vote in the spring - hinges on the approach taken by Fianna Fail.
"The mathematics show they have the balance of power in the committee, they have the balance of power in the Dail," he said.
He strongly criticised Micheal Martin's party over its stance on water. Mr Murphy said Fianna Fail was prepared to allow for the introduction of charges of around €500 in 2010.
"From our point of view, it may become clear early in the new year which way Fianna Fail is going to swing," Mr Murphy said.
"And we are going to be building for, and trying to organise, a major protest to happen around the time the committee will report in advance of the Dail voting on it.
"That will make sure they aren't in any doubt, that if they think this has gone away as an issue, if they think they will get away with so-called excessive usage charges, they won't. They will pay a big, big price."
Mr Murphy said he and others will continue to campaign for refunds to be issued to those who paid their bills.