Wednesday 24 May 2017

Ireland should remain in EU even if Brussels tries to reintroduce water charges - SF senator

Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile said it would be “ridiculous” to quit Europe over the divisive issue
Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile said it would be “ridiculous” to quit Europe over the divisive issue
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

A newly elected Sinn Féin senator has said Ireland should remain in the EU even if Brussels tries to force the Government to reintroduce water charges through hefty anti-pollution fines.

After a week of controversy over whether Ireland will face EU financial penalties for abolishing water charges, Belfast based Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile said it would be “ridiculous” to quit Europe over the divisive issue.

“Coming from a part of Ireland that is under the threat of leaving the EU, I think it is a ridiculous scenario to try and say we would leave the EU with all the benefits – infrastructural, agricultural, social and also in terms of the peace process that it brings,” Mr Ó Donnghaile

“There is already part of Ireland under threat. We have adopted a very strong position against the Northern part of Ireland leaving under the auspicious of Brexit and that would be our position right across the country,” he added.

Sinn Féin’s Seanad leader Rose Conway-Walsh said she believes there is “no basis” to bring Ireland before the European Union Court of Justice over abolishing water charges.

“I think it is impossible for them to do that based on the legislation. Our assessment is that they won’t be able to drag us to court because we have examined the directive around that and I think that won’t happen,” she said.

Ms Conway-Walsh said she would not “predict the outcome” of a forthcoming review of pay for Sinn Fein members.

She added: “My personal view on the wages, I think it is important that people are paid and recognised for the job that they do but I also think the Sinn Féin policy in terms of trying to identify with people who are the most vulnerable people in society and who living on a low wage and living wage or lower than I think is important as well.”

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