Financial Blog

The sorry history of Ireland's water charges

1985 - Labour Party Tánaiste Dick Spring introduces a local-authority domestic-service levy. But attempts by local authorities to reintroduce water charges are met with opposition, particularly in Dublin. As a result, much of rural Ireland is left paying for water, while Dublin councils decline to bring in charges.

1996 - Labours Brendan Howlin abolishes water charges completely. Any upgrades to infrastructure are to come from general taxes.

December 2009 - Fianna Fáils Brian Lenihan tells the Dáil that preparations are under way for the introduction of water charges. Every house is to get a free allowance in an effort to encourage conservation.

July 2010 - The Fianna Fáil-Green-PDs coalition discusses water charges at Cabinet, with a figure of EUR500 suggested as the average cost per household.

November 2010 - As part of the EUR85bn EU-IMF bailout, the government commits to introducing water charges by 2013 and to moving responsibility for water infrastructure from local authorities to a new water utility.

February 2011 - In the run-up to the General Election, the Labour Party promises it will stop Fine Gael from introducing water charges.

June 2011 - Newly appointed Fine Gael Environment Minister Phil Hogan announces that every home in the country is to get a water meter ahead of charges being introduced.

April 2012 - The Fine Gael-Labour coalition confirms that Bord Gáis will set up and run Irish Water. It is to be funded through charges and 95pc of homes are to have a meter by the end of the year.

July 2013 - Irish Water is officially incorporated as a semi-state company.

December 2013 - Just before the Christmas break, the Water Service (No.2) Bill 2013 is rushed through the Dáil in little more than four hours, despite protest from opposition parties.

January 2014 - Irish Water chief executive John Tierney reveals on radio that the company had spent EUR50m on consultants in the previous 12 months. This sparks outrage.

May 2014 - As opposition to water charges mounts, the Government decides that it will not apply a EUR50 standing charge, as had previously been flagged.

July 2014 - It is announced that the average yearly water bill for a household with two adults and two children will be EUR278. Water is to be charged at a rate of EUR4.88 per 1,000 litres.

The Labour Party pitches for the environment ministry after Phil Hogan is appointed EU Commissioner. Alan Kelly takes over as minister.

October 2014 - Irish Water is again engulfed in controversy after it emerges that staff can earn bonuses of up to 19pc. The reward scheme is later suspended.

Meanwhile, the deadline for householders to register is extended, due to a slow uptake. Tens of thousands of people take part in a massive march against water charges in Dublin.

The junior minister who helped set up Irish Water, Fergus ODowd, describes it as an unmitigated disaster.

Irish Water has come across as arrogant and uncaring, demanding money and demanding PPS numbers without properly explaining why all of this is necessary, he tells the Irish Independent.

November 2014 - Tánaiste Joan Burton is trapped in her car by water protesters for more than two hours after attending an event in Jobstown.

Alan Kelly announces an overhaul of water charges. Bills are to be capped at EUR260 - but households can get a EUR100 water-conservation grant even if they dont pay their bill.

The rate per 1,000 litres of water is reduced to EUR3.70. However, fewer than one in four households actually has a meter installed.

Mr Kelly also tries to end another controversy over Irish Waters demand for customers PPS numbers. Irish Water commits to deleting any numbers it collected during registration.

Mr Kelly attempts to quell fears that Irish Water will be sold off by the State, promising that if any future government sought to do so, it would have to put the matter before the people in a plebiscite.

April 2015 - The first Irish Water bills are sent out to 1.5 million households, but just 46pc of people pay up.

July 2015 - Irish Water fails the EUs Market Corporation Test, meaning any money it borrows must go on the Governments balance sheet. Eurostat said the utility could not operate as a standalone entity because the Government exerted considerable control, not enough people were paying their charges and the prices being levied were too low.

February 2016 - The future of Irish Water and water charges are central to the General Election campaign, with Fianna Fáil promising to suspend charges for five years. Fine Gael argues that charges are necessary and the party is fully committed to retaining them. More than half of the TDs elected to the 32nd Dáil oppose water charges.

April 2016 - The formation of a new Fine Gael-led minority government hangs in the balance as it rows with Fianna Fáil over water charges.

Irish Independent

Cruz, Fiorina tout conservative values at South Bend rally

And Ive challenged the status quo a few times in my life, thats you go from secretary to CEO, youve got to challenge the system. Carly Fiorina said.

Thats Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard.

Cruz says he believes Fiorina frightens Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

I can just picture Hillary thinking about Carly, tossing and turning and tossing and turning in her jail cell. he said.

The playbook seemed to be to portray Clinton and Donald Trump as one and the same.

Donald has been supporting liberal Democrats for 40 years. I have no experience with that. Cruz said.

Cruz made a variety of promises including repealing Obamacare, abolishing the IRS and stopping welfare for illegal immigrants.

Were going to see Carrier bringing their jobs back to Indiana, were going to see manufacturing jobs coming back to Indiana. Cruz said.

Cruzs words impressed voters we spoke to who shared his passion for multiple issues.

To bring the jobs back to Indiana, a lot of them get lost going overseas. Erica Roberts of New Carlisle said.

The first amendment, the second amendment, the entire bill of rights, the Constitution in general, taxes, morality. Randy Reese of Goshen said.

Reality Check: Licensing, taxing, and registering bikes?


ASHEVILLE, NC -- Cyclists love the outdoors, but they dont enjoy the confrontation with others who share the road.

The issue is not whos doing what. The issue is lets respect each other, said Claudia Nix, owner of Liberty Bicycles.

The death of a 71-year-old cyclist from Fletcher earlier this month got people simmering over the issue.

On our Facebook page, some offered prayers. Others were critical of bike riders.

Doing so on or in roads not designed to accommodate them is dangerous, not too logical, actually disrespectful to every auto driver the roads were designed for. RIP.

Other posts read Its very dangerous for these bicyclists to be on any of these roads. They need to stay off these roads.

Its a symptom of our society, said Joe Sanders, a retired engineer and founder of the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club. He believes cyclists get a bad rap.

I think the biggest beef is that some folks are upset at some misbehaving cyclists. But I think we can all agree there are misbehaving motorists, too, he said.

The Department of Transportation said registration and licensing have been talked about. But the DOTs director of bicycle and pedestrian transportation says administering such a program would be costly and difficult.

Bicycles are operated by people of all ages and abilities. Identifying all of the potential bicycle owners in the state, for the purposes of a registry, would be a challenging task, said Lauren Blackburn, NC DOT Director of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation

Sanders believes the animosity toward bicyclists has some people peddling misinformation.

Even someone who doesnt own a car is paying for roads, he said. They think so many cyclists dont pay taxes. But we all pay taxes.

Studies reveal more than 40 percent in 2012 highway spending came from general taxes on things all of us use.

Bicyclists say more greenways and bike lanes save money and the environment, reducing vehicle emissions, congestion, and highway wear and tear.

The real issue is our roads are public spaces and our roads need to be made for everyone, Sanders said. So lets have that conversation about how do we improve the infrastructure to make it safe for everybody.

We checked, and some cities and towns do have registration for bikes. But its mostly for protection against theft.

Some worry that taxing bicycle users would just discourage people from taking up the healthy sport.

If you have a story youd like us to investigate, write us at realitycheck@wlos dot com.

30-day pause in Lucas lawsuit

* Tribune

Friends of the Parks has suspended its lawsuit against the proposed Lucas Museum on Chicagos lakefront, the group announced Tuesday.

The nonprofit group, which has blocked the push by Star Wars creator George Lucas and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to build an arts museum near Soldier Field, said in a news release that the stay gives all parties the opportunity to have a more direct and productive dialogue to reach a potential solution about a museum site.

It said it has informed US District Court Judge John Darrah of its decision but added that it could restart its lawsuit, if necessary. City officials asked the group to halt its lawsuit and the group said it agreed because the city is now prioritizing another site for the museum.

The suspension is only for 30 days.

* The Sun-Times has more, including the list of demands

    * Active and serious investigation of other possible non-lakefront sites that include the Michael Reese Hospital site acquired by former Mayor Richard M. Daley as the site of an Olympic Village before Chicago's first-round flame-out in the 2016 Olympics sweepstakes, an 18th Street site across from the Soldier Field site, and the marshalling yards for trucks and recreational vehicles west of McCormick Place.
    * A "strong grasp of the impact" the Lucas museum would have on "jobs, particularly for South Side residents, tourism and the economic in general, taxes and other costs to Chicago residents and educational benefits."
    * "Clear specifics" about any proposed site and plan that promises to generate the most viability and create more park space for residents and visitors.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported exclusively in mid-April that Emanuel has shifted his focus from Soldier Field's south parking lot to the site of McCormick Place East to avoid a protracted legal battle over the Soldier Field site and satisfy Lucas' demand to get moving on the legacy project.

Emanuel's plan calls for tearing down the above-ground portion of McCormick Place East, building the museum on a portion of the site that includes Arie Crown Theater and replacing the lost convention space by building a $500 million McCormick Place expansion over Martin Luther King Drive.

Any deal would have to be approved by the GA and the governor.

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