Saturday 23 September 2017

Fianna Fáil accused of 'flip-flopping' as Fine Gael set to reject water committee report

Fresh row over water charges (Stock picture)
Fresh row over water charges (Stock picture)

Kevin Doyle and Niall O'Connor

Fine Gael will vote against the final report of a Dáil committee set up to make recommendations on the end of water charges.

Amid claims of “dishonesty”, “flip flops” and “populism” the government party was beaten on almost every vote at a series of meetings today.

As a result charges will not be applied even in cases of excess usage, although “penalties” will be introduced for “wilful/abusive use of water”.

Fianna Fáil also joined forced with Sinn Féin to stop the automatic installation of water meters in all newly built homes.

The outcome is a major blow for Housing Minister Simon Coveney who must now set about drawing up legislation to reflect the work of the committee.

Fine Gael TDs have tonight claimed the minister is being asked to do something which will result in Ireland getting massive fines from the EU.

“Fianna Fáil have put populism before the needs of our country, and of the Irish people. They have continuously flip-flopped with their position on the funding of domestic water services and are now willing to hold the State and the Irish taxpayer to ransom for their own political gain,” said Dublin Fingal TD Alan Farrell.

However, Fianna Fáil’s water spokesman Barry Cowen said Fine Gael needed to realise that a majority had spoken.

He said his party went into the 20 meetings of the water committee “in a bid to compromise”.

“Everybody gave and took a bit out of this,” he said.

Mr Cowen claimed Fine Gael were looking for “back door” ways of reintroducing charges.

Solidarity-PBP TD Paul Murphy claimed the result is a “victory” for the tens of thousands of people who took part in anti-water charge protests.

“I’m not sure what Fine Gael were playing at with this whole thing,” he said.

Earlier Mr Cowen and Mr Coveney engaged in a Twitter spat over what had been agreed by the parties last week.

Online Editors

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