herald

Monday 18 December 2017

650,000 homes yet to register for water charges

Protesters show their support against charges during a water charges demonstration in Dublin this afternoon
Protesters show their support against charges during a water charges demonstration in Dublin this afternoon

Almost half of all Irish households have yet to sign up to Irish Water, with only hours to go before the deadline.

A total of 650,000 households – or 43.3pc of the customer base – across the country have yet to sign up with the utility, despite the deadline at midnight tonight.

The Department of the Envrionment has said that there will be another deadline announced but have not set a date.

Irish Water said that 850,000 people have registered to date out of a possible 1.5 million customers.

A spokesperson confirmed that there would be no immediate penalty for those who have not signed up by midnight.

The spokesperson said households that have not yet registered will be charged a flat rate of €260 but can still apply for the €100 conservation grant if they sign up late.

With tonight’s deadline so close, Irish Water said it was bringing in extra

staff to be “more prepared” for the overflow of people applying today.

Dublin south west Sinn Fein TD Sean Crowe said that “some people may panic and pay”, but that there was still a significant portion that had not paid.

“The country is divided,” he told the Herald. “Some people feel they have no choice but to sign up regardless of if they are opposed to these charges.”

However, speaking yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said today is “not the absolute deadline”.

In total, 1.065 million households signed up with Irish Water, but 215,000 of these will not need to be billed as they are not on the public mains system.

Irish Water’s Elizabeth Arnett this morning thanked those households who have signed up with the utility.

“If people haven’t confirmed their details there is still time. But as we get closer to locking down data for billing it is harder to represent that in the first bill,” she said. She warned of penalties for the non-payment of bills.

“If four bills remain outstanding and customers make no attempt to contact Irish Water then there will be penalties or in other words additional charges, Ms Arnett said on RTE Radio.

The announcement that only 56.7pc of households have signed up came as tens of thousands of people protested against the charges over the weekend.

Protesters descended on Dublin city centre on Saturday and there were marches in Cork and Galway too.

Commenting on the number of households that have so far registered, John Tierney, managing director of Irish Water, admitted that setting up the facility was an “enormous challenge”.

“Creating a national database of customers on the public water network for the first time is significant and we would like to thank people for confirming their details,” he said. 

“We are now in the final stages of preparation for billing to the 1.5 million households on the public water network.”

hnews@herald.ie

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