Health minister leo Varadkar has said that it “really bothers” him that people are protesting against water charges when there are “much bigger problems in Irish society”.
Varadkar was speaking as tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Dublin city centre today to protest against Irish Water and the charges regime.
The minister acknowledged his comments were not “politically correct” but indicated that the issues he was dealing with, such as the Áras Attracta controversy, people waiting on hospital trollies and unemployment, are more important.
His reference to €3 a week is the amount it will cost a household of two or more adults for their water supply when Irish Water bills are issued next spring.
The Fine Gael TD told RTE’s News at One: “I know it’s not politically correct but I do have to say it.
“The kind of things that I’m dealing with at the moment, things like Áras Attracta, the fact that there over 300 people on trollies this morning in our hospitals, the fact that there are 10 per cent of our population are still unemployed.
“You know, it really bothers me that people are out protesting about €3 a week in water charges. We have much bigger problems in our society.”
He acknowledged that there were “hundreds of thousands” of households who would agree with he protesters today, but noted that nearly a million households have registered with Irish Water.
Varadkar also admitted that the government became “a bit arrogant” after the Troika left last December. Bit he said the coalition was given a message in the local elections and had made water charges more affordable.