If you didn't pay your Irish Water bill, here is some good news

Report: Irish Water non payers won't be chased for money
Report: Irish Water non payers won't be chased for money

Householders who did not pay water charges are unlikely to be pursued, while those that did stump up the money are set to be denied a refund for now.

That is according to a report in today's Irish Independent.

Existing legislation says arrears must be above €500 before a person can be taken to court, meaning non-payers are likely to escape sanction.

However, it is doubtful that those who have paid will get refunds of their money - as it would require Irish Water to reprocess more than two million financial transactions.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and Finance Minister Michael Noonan assured Fine Gael's parliamentary party that Irish Water will continue to seek arrears from anyone who has not paid a bill.

Their comments echoed the approach taken by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin earlier in the Dáil when he indicated the focus would be on chasing non-payers rather than refunds.

"Unlike others our position is that you don't get to pick and choose what lawful payments you make. What is lawfully owed should be paid," he said.

However, sources last night told the Irish Independent that this could prove problematic as the Civil Debt Procedures Bill, which allows unpaid bills to be taken from wages and social welfare payments, applies to debts between €500 and €4,000.

A family's annual water bill was capped by the outgoing government at €260, meaning a household would need two years' worth of unpaid bills before they can be taken to court.

It has also been suggested that the issue of refunds could be assessed by the all-party Oireachtas committee on water which will be set up as part of the compromise deal between the two parties.

However, that would mean that it will be at least a year before a decision on giving 900,000 people their money back.