Sunday 21 January 2018

'Let water meters rust in ground and refund all charges' - Sinn Fein plan

Pearse Doherty
Pearse Doherty

Sinn Fein has proposed that thousands of meters installed by Irish Water should remain in the ground and gather rust in order to remind the public of the "flawed policies" of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

The party's finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said his party is not proposing to "dig" the meters up and put them "on display".

Regarding Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, Mr Doherty said, "It's their fault, we can't bring that money back."

"They will join the voting machines and other disastrous policies."

Mr Doherty also outlined his party's plans to refund householders who have already paid their bills.

But he signalled that this refund would not be paid until January 1, 2018.

In the meantime, householders who have paid a combined €162m in charges would be asked to register for a refund.

Mr Doherty said under Sinn Fein's plans, €130m that has not been spent on water meters will go towards improving infrastructure. Domestic water charges should also be made free for everybody on water schemes, the party says.

The issue of water charges was raised at Sinn Fein's pre-budget submission in Dublin.


The party says its proposals would raise €1bn in net taxes to fund spending measures such as childcare, health and education.

Key tax proposals include a series of measures aimed at tackling "gold-plated pensions", a new 7pc higher rate of tax on incomes of €100,000 and above and the abolition of property tax.

The party's pre-budget document also proposes to take workers earning less than €19,572 out of the USC net and increasing tax credits for the self-employed.

A second-home tax would be brought in and set at €400, while capital acquisition tax would be increased by 3pc to 36pc.

A betting tax of 3pc would be brought in by Sinn Fein, while the party also proposes to scrap the 9pc special VAT rate for hotels but leave it in place for restaurants. Stamp duty would also be increased by the party if in government.

The party also claims it would raise over €101m through a "volumetric sugary sweetened drinks tax at a rate of €24.64 per hectolitre".

Other proposals announced include reducing TDs' salaries to €75,000 and senators salaries to €60,000.

Maternity benefit would rise and there would be a €111m subsidised childcare scheme for children aged six months to three years at a cost.

Responding to suggestions that the childcare scheme is very similar to Children's Minister Katherine Zappone's proposed version, Sinn Fein deputy Mary Lou McDonald said there has been various and mixed messages coming from Cabinet.

But she signalled her party would be prepared to support the Government's plan if it had merit and is fair.

In terms of housing, Sinn Fein says it would roll out a €491m social housing programme.

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