Saturday 1 October 2016

FF stands over water vow despite warnings

Published 30/03/2016 | 02:30

Fianna Fáil's Public Expenditure spokesperson Seán Fleming
Fianna Fáil's Public Expenditure spokesperson Seán Fleming

Fianna Fáil is standing over its pledge to abolish water charges - despite a warning by Irish Water that such a move is in conflict with EU law.

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The public utility last night confirmed its parent company Ervia has received legal advice which said charges must remain in place.

"In light of recent queries regarding water charges, independent legal advice was sought by Ervia, which confirms that, under European law, Ireland is now obliged to charge for water services," a spokeswoman said.

But opposition parties have rounded on the company for refusing to publish the legal advice in full.

Sinn Féin said the advice is contrary to information the party has received from the European Commission.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil has reiterated its opposition to water charges and the continuation of Irish Water despite the legal advice obtained.

The party's Public Expenditure spokesperson Seán Fleming said Fianna Fáil's position is also at odds with the legal advice, which Irish Water declined to publish last night.

"We absolutely contest the legal advice being put forward by Irish Water," Mr Fleming said. "It's important to recognise that this legal advice was commissioned by Irish Water, and it should be examined with caution in light of this. It's extraordinary to see Irish Water quoting EU rules as sacrosanct considering they failed to meet the key Eurostat market test last year."

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy said he does not trust Fianna Fáil to maintain its stance.

"I don't trust Fianna Fáil as far as I can throw them," he said.

"I think they may be willing to negotiate away opposition to water charges in exchange for something else - cabinet positions or whatever," the Dublin South West TD told 'Newstalk Breakfast'. "The only way to ensure abolition (of Irish Water) is to step up the boycott (of charges)," he added.

Irish Independent

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