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Addresses taken off water protest Facebook page

ADDRESSES for the Justice Minister and the Director of Public Prosecutions have been removed from an anti-water charges Facebook page.

The Herald revealed that in a sinister development addresses for Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and DPP Claire Loftus were posted online.

Gardai were made aware of the matter and a spokesman for Ms Fitzgerald said she "deplores any form of intimidation or attempt to target people whose function it is to uphold law and order in the State".

The addresses had been posted in the comments section of the Facebook page of the 'Darndale/Belcamp/Coolock Says NO to Water Meters' group by a third party.

Responsible

Also posted were home addresses for former justice minister Alan Shatter and DPP official Elizabeth Howlin.

The post was removed last night.

An administrator for the anti-water charges group's Facebook page insisted they weren't responsible for the post.

"We cannot be held responsible for other people's opinions.

"We have all got lives outside Facebook and outside of campaigning against meters and a further charge on our water.

"As many of us are using mobiles it's not always possible to access past posts or receive notifications to specific comments.

"As I didn't post it, I'm not responsible for what others post," the administrator added.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that a two-tier water charges system - aimed at distinguishing between larger households and those with just a single adult occupant - is to be put in place until at least 2017.

The move will see a special, lower fixed-rate extended to groups such as widows, single workers and lone parents who make up just under third of households in the State.

And a higher fixed charge, believed still to be in the region of €278, will apply to all other households for a period of a minimum of two years, though this will be lowered with support measures worth about €100.

The new approach to the water charges issue has emerged following intensive negotiations by members of the government's Economic Management Council (EMC).

Sources within Fine Gael and Labour both confirmed last night that the two-tier model is close to being agreed but said the exact rates will be ironed out in the coming days.

The system is designed to ensure no single person faces the same bill as an average family, government figures said.

According to information detailed in the Dail by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, 30pc of households are occupied by just one adult.

Almost half of households (49pc) are occupied by two adults, while 13pc of households are occupied by three adults.

The Sunday Times yesterday reported that single adult households will see their annual bills capped at around €80 after their water support payments are taken into account.

However, government sources last night described this figure as "too low" and said much of the work so far has focussed on the rate set to be applied to households with at least two adults.

refused

Sources said that a claim by Tanaiste Joan Burton that these households will face bills of around €200 still stands due to the €100 support measures that will be applied.

The news comes as a senior minister refused to rule out the prospect of holding a referendum to determine whether Irish Water's public ownership is enshrined.

Speaking on RTE's This Week in Politics, Communications Minister Alex White said a referendum is a "reasonable suggestion".

"[A referendum] is a reasonable suggestion, but I think we need to do a lot more work on it," he said.

"I think we've had a bad experience in this country in terms of putting stuff into the Constitution that we thought meant one thing and it turns out it meant something else," he added.

hnews@herald.ie


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