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Three-month reprieve as first bills won't ar rive until April Three-month reprieve as bill will

HOUSEHOLDERS will get a three-month reprieve on water charges under the Government's plan to try and quell the rising public anger on the issue.

Charging for water will not begin until January, with the first bills delayed until some time in April under the revised plan.

Under the original scheme, charging was to have begun last month and hard-pressed householders would have been billed just after Christmas, when families' finances are under the greatest strain.

The plan is also expected to see charges drastically reduced for householders with two-adult-homes expected to pay as low as €160.

Both Fine Gael and Labour sources confirmed last night that the move to delay billing by three months is designed to soften the public anger towards water charges. They stressed that the plan was subject to cabinet approval.

Meanwhile, as protests continued a supervisor working with water meter installers claimed yesterday he was intimidated into halting work at a Dublin housing estate.


He said workers felt threatened at Howth View Road in Donaghmede.

The supervisor, who was too fearful to give his name, said: "My workers were approached by people who told them their names and addresses were known. One of them had a ski-mask over his face. I call that intimidation".

A number of people involved in the protest strongly distanced themselves from the alleged intimidation of workers.

Women holding placards on nearby Holywell Avenue said: "We are completely against any intimidation".

A number of water meters were installed on roads in Donaghmede early yesterday before growing numbers of people began to obstruct the movement of vans and trucks belonging to installation crews.

At a number of locations on residential roads near Donaghmede Shopping Centre, small groups of people stood in front of the contractors' vans to prevent them from driving away.

"We are going to stop them from leaving here for a few hours so that they can't move on to some other area today," said one woman.

Small groups of gardai stood at different points along the road observing the protesters as they continued to block vehicles.

The majority of the protesters said they did not live in the area but they had been "invited" there by friends.