Paying On The Treble


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From top: Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming and Secretary General of the Department of the Environment, John McCarthy, at a Public Accounts Committee meeting yesterday

Senior officials from the Department of Environment, including secretary general of the department, John McCarthy, were before the Public Accounts Committee yesterday.

During the officials’ appearance, the matter of motor tax being used to fund Irish Water was addressed and it was confirmed that €439million of local government funds was paid to Irish Water last year – two-thirds of which came from motor tax.

This year Irish Water is expected to get €399million and next year, €479million.

From yesterday’s meeting…

John McGuinness: “And the resources of the Government fund are used mainly to provide local authorities for their funding for their day-to-day activities and for the upkeep of regional and local roads.”

John McCarthy: “That would have been the case in 2013…yes, yeah.”

McGuinness: “And I’m just saying the shift in that, then in 2014, was the taking of this €439million of subvention to go to Irish Water. Which is incredible.”

Sean Fleming: “Are we right in saying that that local government fund, just to keep the figures in round figures, about €1.5billion went into it, approximately.”

McCarthy: “Yeah.”

Fleming: “Approximately €1billion was motor tax, two-thirds of it. So it’s fair to say two-thirds of the €439billion that went to Irish Water went from motor tax?”

McCarthy: “That was…”

Fleming: “Two-thirds of the funds. So. Right, you can understand, as I said, I missed this, that particular issue, that two-thirds of the money going to Irish Water had actually come from motor tax. Two-thirds of the money from the local government…”

McCarthy: “Which would have formerly been part of the general purpose grant to local authorities as part of their funding of…”

Fleming: “Yeah, you can understand how the people would be… talk about paying for something on, there’s a valid case we pay for the water services through our taxation. Now, we’re going to have to pay for the water services through the bills, the water rates. And you’re actually telling me we’ll also be paying for the water services through our motor tax…”

McGuinness: “The county councils are starved of money to fill the potholes on country roads.”

Fleming: “We’ve three sources of funds now to, paying for Irish…the Irish taxpayer is being asked to pay taxation goes for the water services, as you have it, the central fund. That’s money received from taxation. They’re going to get money from motor tax – two-thirds of that €400 – €250million of that at least – has come from motor tax. And now we’re also saying something, maybe smaller than that, is going to come through the water rates, through the bills they receive from Irish Water. Like people understood, had a problem paying on the double for their water services, having paid their taxes and now paying for water rates. But if they actually knew you’re going to be paid on the treble, because your motor tax is also going to pay for Irish Water. Is it…”

McCarthy: “It’s the operating subvention to Irish Water is, in general terms, it comes out of taxation. The vehicle that is used for it, if you’ll pardon the pun, is the…em.”

Thanks Bewildered Student

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59 thoughts on “Paying On The Treble

  1. Spartacus

    Delighted that this has been given an airing by the PAC, but (to use that overworked cliche) the dogs in the street knew this, no?

  2. Small Wonder

    Just shows you how under funded the water infrastructure has been. It needs some serious work.

    1. Nessy

      Or how incompetent the current FG/LB government and previous governments have been with our taxes

      If it’s so outdated and underfunded then why wasn’t it such an issue during the boom years?

      1. paul m

        Because we were all too busy drinking champagne from fountains of gold to notice. Apparently we all partied, three times more than we should have that’s why they need to get everything back in triplicate now. It makes perfect nonsense.

        1. sickofallthisbs

          You were obviously drinking champagne from the public supply, pleb. Hope you caught the athlete’s tongue.

      2. kellma

        because they were heavily relying on the boom revenue stream from property transactions. When the boom went bust and you no longer had queues of people waiting to sign up for un-built houses in the back of beyond, they were left with their pockets turned inside-out. now they need to replace that income stream. We always paid for our water in some form, its just more obvious now that they are detailing it specifically through a separate tax. What is most irritating is that this set up of Irish water seems to have been done in a way that is making it even more expensive…

        1. Odis

          Indeed. That is a fair argument. And inasmuch as local authorities were funded by motor tax, and were responsible for water supply, we can hardly quibble, if money gets diverted from motor tax.

          The point your argument seems to be missing, is that protesters, against “Water Tax” have argued that this is simply an extra tax, that is being used to fund payment of Ireland’s “deb”t to the EU.
          And, given that the government has not said that they will reduce road tax when they collect water taxes” this would seem to be the case.

          In a nutshell it demonstrates, that water charges are just another form of taxation, wrapped up in a package, that is designed as a deliberate confidence trick against the electorate.

      3. Clampers Outside!

        “If it’s so outdated and underfunded then why wasn’t it such an issue during the boom years?”

        It was. But FF chose to ignore it… they ignored it since the EU first told them to do something about since the 80s.

        Ask anyone who votes FF, they’ll tell you they voted FF for lower taxes (or they’ll lie). Taxes that should have gone to upgrading the water system.
        Yes, FF should shoulder most if not ALL of the blame because they were in power and they did the ignoring of the warnings of the massive problem with Irish water systems.

        Plain and simple. Anyone seeing it otherwise is a deluded acid tripped out monkey.

        This should not be read as showing support for FG or any other muppets.

    2. Digs

      The country should just ban all tax. It’s only ever used to make the politicians rich. Do they seriously expect us to believe the money is needed to run the country and maintain some kind of social cohesion? They don’t pay water tax in many parts of Africa. People just walk to a well and take it. It’s there for everyone! Yes indeed, these political types don’t fool me! I’m gonna walk somewhere and get water from now on. Reservoirs me hole! Pipes me hole and sanitisation me hole!

      1. DD


        Seemingly you are so infatuated with your bottom that you have even developed the ability to talk through it.

    3. ollie

      correct small wonder. the half a billion spent on meters and 300million on consultants will really help the quality of our water.

      1. Odis

        Creamsian Economics m8. You obviously don’t understand the subtlety of the governments techniques.

  3. donal

    FF TD (I think it was Fleming) on Morning Ireland just now trying to make political hay out of this. He kept asserting that motor tax money was going to water and this was incredible. When questioned as to what he’d do differently he had no answer, he just wanted a debate to be started as all this was new to the public and they should be informed.
    Any TD who thinks that there is such a thing as “Motor Tax” money, or LPT money etc is an idiot. There is tax and there is expenditure, what account money happens to be resting in is irrelevant.

    Is this FF desperation to paint themselves as different to FG despite having very little evidence to the contrary? If so it would seem to me to be a doomed exercise

    1. Liam from Lixnaw

      taxation and expenditure – exactly – sure remember a few years ago the word “ring-fenced” was being trotted out for a few schemes – meaning that a tax paid for a service went to fund that service – meaning that all other taxations went into a big pot for everything – for a politician to put on a stunned face and claim that its “incredible” makes him out to be very naive.

      as for saying “and the county councils crying out for money to fix the potholes on county roads” – its the equivalent of “wont someone please think of the children”

    2. Barry the Hatchet

      Completely agree, Donal. Fleming came across like a complete moron on Morning Ireland. Frustrating that he was allowed to get away with repeating the same stupid line over and over again.

      There’s nothing to see here. The idea that FF have uncovered this huge conspiracy to make us pay for water “on the treble” is just utter nonsense.

      1. Joe the Lion

        It plays well with the stupids – in all communications you have the message, the sender and the receiver.

        Sinn Féin is now looking like taking a lot of the parish pump pig ignorant vote that went the to the piss artists formerly known as

        1. JimmytheHead

          Please explain to a stupid pig ignorant dog like me – if you dont mind – how does spending 9 billion (so far) in a year on water meters and corporate paycheques effects the quality of our water treatment system?

          1. Joe the Lion

            I’m not referring to you JImmytheHead or Frilly Keane nor addressing your pov.

            I’m talking specifically to Barry the Hatchet’s commentary about the Fianna Fáil message. I’m saying that Fianna Fáil’s presentation of themselves as Sherlock Holmes unlocking the mystery of the third secret of Water Tax Fatima is a carefully calibrated insult to draw attention of the half-awake away from the fact that it was the Right2Water and Sinn Féin crowd who originally developed this talking point.

          1. italia'90

            Excellent link, thanks for that JTL.
            I was at the Glass Spider tour concert in Slane back fadó fadó and left it a bit disappointed.
            Life is a stage etc. etc.

    3. Clampers Outside!

      Em… it is relevant which account the money is in.

      The sooner we start separating our tax collections and putting source of collection taxes back into that source, and then use the surplus (where there is any) for other needs the sooner we can see a more accountable government.
      The idea in Ireland is throw all taxes in a trough and let at it.
      And that has to stop. If taxes collected for one thing were put back into just that thing first, then others, we wouldn’t be in such a fupping mess with Irish Water… in other words, FF should have left the water rates alone in the 1970s, but no, as usual, they cut taxes to get into power and screw everyone in the long run… and FG get the blame for making the hard decisions… and making them badly.

      This comment should not be seen as a show of support for FG. It’s not.

      If our government(s) were ever serious about accountability and transparency they’d be pushing this long ago.

      1. 3stella

        In fairness the council’s and regional rural development bodies having been flagging the water infrastructure issue for more then 20 years as a big crisis looming, It’s just that Ahern & pals in FF chose to ignore it as out of sight, out of mind issue.

      2. 3stella

        It’s all okay, the Government are tackling cheap drink issue while continuing subsidise their own cheap drink in the Dail bar.

  4. Mike

    I still have an image in my head of charlie mccreevy on the steps of leinster house more than a decade ago beeming that we had so much of a surplus. Then was the time to invest in water infrastructure. :(

    1. Joxer


      instead he gave you all SSIA’s and what not…. took money from public purse and diverted it away from projects like water to give to those who didnt need the money. immoral b*stard

      1. italia'90

        I was in the company of a BOI branch manager in a pub in Lahinch, who was bragging about how his bonus from customers opening SSIA accounts had paid for his new holiday home and with a bit of luck he would have a new yacht before the deadline to open new accounts had expired.
        I have always believed that it was one of the major factors in fueling the housing bubble.

        1. Frilly Keane

          Well they actually disguised the start of the meltdown. IMO

          The 12 months that was filled with maturing SSIA pots was followed with a year of Credit Crunch

          T’was two years before people actually realised the meltdown had actually been and gone; and the Paddies were already balls deep into a recession. In 2008 public sector pay agreements like “going forward” were still being paid. Long after the music stopped …

  5. Frilly Keane

    I think this, as in the Irish Water Saga, actually the Irish Water Mysteries sound better, should be a musical

    A musical of epic event scale stuff, like Les Mis

    We have t’ turn this thing around lads.

    Anyone know if Cameron Macintosh has an’ting on?

        1. italia'90

          Ah now, that’s a bit harsh, but only a bit.
          I prefer to think of them as quisling court jesters and the cleverer ones as pandering minstrels.

          Mmmmm Minstrels, Raggae, Roots and Rock Steady on a Friday in DNZ.
          Now, do I play some Max Romeo or Toots over lunch?

  6. Slab

    …..and the nonsense continues while The Health System is in tatters and emergency patients suffer the fate of delays on trolleys. Children can’t get access to proper medical treatments and our elderly are almost considered not worth treating because of costs.
    Roll on The Revolution…

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