“Are you going to pay your water charges, Gerry?”

To pay or not to pay water charges was the question of the week for the southern wing of Sinn Féin.  In the north, things are completely different…  Under pressure from former MEP Paul Murphy of the Anti-Austerity Alliance, the party’s candidate in today’s by-election in Dublin South West, Cllr Cathal King, had majored heavily on his opposition to the charges during the campaign – telling potential voters that he won’t pay, and would fight his bill in the courts.

His party president, Gerry Adams, TD for Louth, however, began the week under the impression that the charge wouldn’t apply to him as he ordinarily resided “in the North”. [Partitionist! – Ed]  In the Irish Times, Miriam Lord related the relevant quotes from the interview on Shannonside Radio on Monday morning.

How a person living on just the average industrial wage and mere average industrial expenses could overlook such a wallop in the wallet is puzzling. So we listened back to this exchange between Gerry and Joe Finnegan on Shannonside Radio on Monday morning.

“Are you going to pay your water charges, Gerry?”

“Well, it doesn’t affect me in so far as, eh, I, in the North where my family home is, Sinn Féin stopped water charges…”

“So you won’t have to pay water charges here in the South?”

“No, not, not, not to my knowledge.” [added emphasis]

In fairness, Adams may have a well at his holiday bolthole in Donegal’s Gortahork, so he would be covered there, but where does that leave his Louth constituency abode in rural Ballymakellett, Ravensdale, on the lovely Cooley Peninsula?

If he’s paying up they both can’t have a well.

Before the 2011 general election Gerry had to go to court to declare that he now resides in Louth to have his name included on the election register. Even if he was only renting he would be liable for water charges. Very puzzling, forgetting such a big thing.

The party president’s faulty knowledge was subsequently corrected by a Sinn Féin party spokesman.

…when asked by the Irish Independent if Mr Adams would pay water charges for his holiday home in Donegal and his two constituency offices, a Sinn Fein spokesman said the party leader would be paying the charge in all instances.

However, he will not be paying water charges for the house in Louth where he is registered to vote.

“Gerry will pay the water charge on his house in Donegal and his constituency office,” he said. “The house in Co Louth in which he stays belongs to a friend, so this is not matter for Gerry,” he added.

As an interesting sidebar,  if Miriam Lord is correct on water charges liability for rentees, and if “The house in Louth” – where Gerry Adams “ordinarily resides” for electoral purposes – “is not a matter for Gerry”, that would suggest that he doesn’t pay rent to his “friend”.  So why isn’t that property listed in the Dáil register of members interests, along with his pension from the Northern Ireland Assembly?  In the interests of transparency…  The only property actually listed, in 2013 or any other year, is

Land (including property) … Tír na nÓg, Gort a’Choirc, Tír Chonaill (house): used exclusively by my family and is co-owned with my wife.

Which would cover his Donegal residence.  Where accommodation at the Louth residence, being rent-free, or a significant gift in the circumstances, might have been listed there is ‘nil’.

  1. Gifts ……………………… Nil
  2. Property supplied or lent or a Service supplied… Nil

ANYhoo… by the time of the party’s launch of its alternative budget submission Sinn Féin was, if not in crisis, in disarray.

Speaking at the launch of the party’s pre-budget submission in Dublin yesterday, senior Sinn Fein TDs Mary Lou McDonald, Pearse Doherty and Caoimhghin O Caolain said they will follow suit [and, like the party president, pay the water charge].

But the party’s housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis and Dublin South West by-election candidate Cathal King insisted they will fight the charges.

“I intend to fight it all the way,” Mr Ellis told the Irish Independent.

Sinn Fein TD Aengus O Snodaigh said he is “not inclined” to pay the bill on January 1 but he will consult his family before making a decision.

His party colleague Jonathan O’Brien said he has not decided yet if he will boycott the payment.

Adds  A thought on Miriam Lord’s reference to Gerry’s “constituency abode in rural Ballymakellett, Ravensdale, on the lovely Cooley Peninsula”. Could this be the [rent-free] Adams’ Louth residence in question in the 2013 Dáil register(1)?

Occupations Etc. ………….. (1) Writer: Baile Mhic Eileoid, Ravensdale, Co. Louth; (2) Pension: Northern Assembly.

And  To highlight the missing detail “in the North” from Gerry Adams’ entry in the Dáil register of members interests, here’s a reminder of his comments in 2010 after declaring his intention to stand as a candidate for Louth

GERRY Adams will reside in County Louth if elected to Dail Eireann in this constituency.  The Sinn Fein leader made the admission on a visit to The Dundalk Democrat on Monday.

Many people had questioned his decision to run in County Louth despite not being from the area but Mr Adams said he will happily relocate here in order to do the job to the best of his ability.

“My family home is in West Belfast and it will remain there but I will live here in order to do the job as best I can and go home then whenever the chance allows it.” [added emphasis]


“I’m clearly going to stay in Louth, the same way that Bairbre goes to Strasbourg and Brussels but comes back and lives in West Belfast, so I will still be about the place,” [Gerry Adams] said. [Andersonstown News report]

“My church is here. My GAA club is here. This is Antrim and I’m an Antrim supporter.  All my connectiveness is here. I’ll work in Louth and I’ll stay there because you have to be available if they elect me, but I’ll be back here and I’ll still be very much a part of this community.  My family home is here and I’m going to stay here.” [added emphasis]