Leo Varadkar has promised a pension rise for Irish OAPs

Pension Increase

Varadkar said that the Government intends to increase the pension ahead of the rate of inflation every year

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has promised a pension rise for OAPs — but refused to reveal when it would happen.

Mr Varadkar said: “I can’t go into any specifics on the Budget on tax, on pensions, on welfare, on spending because we just aren’t at that point yet.

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

“There are many moving parts and we are not at the point where we can make any specific commitment on any specific issue at this stage.

“But what I will say is the Programme for Government states very clearly it is our intention to increase the pension and increase it ahead of the rate of inflation and to do so every year.”

Meanwhile Varadkar said it would “be better” if our water infrastructure was funded by water charges following the recent crisis after a pipe burst in Drogheda.

He said that although having Irish Water set up earlier may not have saved the damaged pipelines, funding the repairs through water charges — rather than going up against schools and hospitals for funding priorities — would better suit the country.

The Fine Gael chief said: “I think it’s probably a bit too simplistic to say that if we had water charges or if we set up Irish Water 20 years ago, the pipes wouldn’t break.

“I’m sure under any system pipes break on occasion and they need to be fixed.

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“It was the argument certainly of my party and other parties that it would be better if we could fund water services through water charges.

“First of all, because it would create a dedicated stream of funding that would go into the water network. And secondly because it would allow us to set up a proper semi-state, like the ESB, like Bord Gais, which could borrow against its own assets and invest much more in infrastructure.”

But he admitted: “It’s not an issue that I see being reopened at the next election, whenever it comes. We have a settled position now which is that Irish Water is a state agency, on the state’s balance sheet and we will only charge for excessive or wasteful use of water by domestic customers.”

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