Martin is blamed over FF U-turn on water
Published 27/09/2016 | 02:30
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is being blamed internally over the party's U-turn on water charges.
Several senior Fianna Fáil TDs and backbenchers have singled out Mr Martin over the party's decision to significantly harden its stance by announcing that water charges are gone for good.
The new found position, detailed in the party's submission to the independent commission and articulated by Mr Martin on radio, has taken many Fianna Fáil TDs by surprise.
Several sources said they expect the disquiet to be communicated to Mr Martin at a meeting of the front bench today.
The TDs say it has put the party in a bind and will force them to oppose Sinn Féin's motion this week - despite agreeing with Gerry Adams's party that charges should be scrapped.
It is the first time in months that Mr Martin has been criticised to such a degree internally.
The party's previous stance stated that water charges should be abolished until the infrastructure was brought up to scratch.
But the party's submission to the commission, which is due to begin its work in November, states that charges should be abolished for good.
A senior source said rural backbenchers are particularly concerned about the renewed hype over charges.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has rejected allegations by Fianna Fáil that its motion represents "playacting".
"I think Fianna Fáil are clearly dizzy from their series of U-turns. They don't know what to be thinking or saying. The motion states very simply that we would abolish water charges," she said.
"Now that to me is a very simple, straightforward proposition. It's a proposition that the majority of TDs in the Dáil support including Fianna Fáil - or so they say.
"It makes no sense for Fianna Fáil to say on the one hand we're for abolition of these charges but on the other we're going to come in and vote down a motion that states precisely that."