It was bad enough that the household tax was pushed through come hell or high water by 31 March, with the result that only half of households have registered for payment. Now the country is faced with the water metering debacle, with headlines in The Sunday Times suggesting that people will have to pay up to €300 to install a meter. This was followed by a spokesman for the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government saying that both the cost of buying and installing water meters would be passed on to households and not paid for by the Exchequer. We then had the Taoiseach stating:
There will not be an installation charge for the householder because that cost will be covered as a loan from the National Pensions Reserve Fund to the Department. There will be a cost for the meter itself.
On RTE Radio's "This Week", the Tánaiste articulated a third position, that no decision had yet been made on how water meters are to be paid for. As if these confused statements were not enough, on Monday the Taoiseach repeated that while there would be no charge for the installation of water meters, somebody will have to pay for them.
The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton, added the Government was awaiting proposals on metering from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. The Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, stated that no formal decision had been taken but that he saw meters as a friend of householders, businesses and so on. All of this took place on the same day the Irish League of Credit Unions painted a stark picture of more than 47% of households having less than €100 in disposable income per month.