Friday 30 September 2016

Sinn Féin can't say who would sit on water commission

Published 19/03/2016 | 02:30

Newly elected TD for Limerick Maurice Quinlivan. Photo: Mark Condren
Newly elected TD for Limerick Maurice Quinlivan. Photo: Mark Condren

Sinn Féin cannot say who would sit on a commission it wants to set up to decide the fate of Irish Water.

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The party has backed away from its pre-election promise to immediately set about abolishing the utility and now wants to set up a committee to assess how to maintain the water network.

If that group was to recommend the retention of Irish Water, then Sinn Féin would abide by that.

"Our position is we would have a commission on Irish Water. The idea of the commission would be to come up with a utility that could deliver a proper water service.

"We'd be talking about investing €900m extra into the water services," said newly elected TD for Limerick Maurice Quinlivan.

However, when asked by the Irish Independent who would sit on the commission, Mr Quinlivan replied: "You're talking hypothetical about a commission."

At the same time, Mr Quinlivan insisted it remains party policy that Irish Water and water charges should be abolished.

"If we were in government, that's what we would be doing," he said.

"A lot of people didn't pay them because they didn't have the money - and they still don't have the money," he said.

Reversed

It comes after Fianna Fáil reversed their attitude towards the more than half a million households refusing to pay the charges.

Initially, Micheál Martin's party had indicated they would not chase non-payers if they are in the next government.

They want to suspend bills for at least five years while the water system is upgraded.

However, senior sources now say their policy is to pursue those people who have so far failed to pay their bills.

Mr Quinlivan criticised Fianna Fáil, saying the move will "come as a shock" to people who voted for them.

"I don't think Fianna Fáil were discussing the issue that way during the campaign when they were looking for people's votes," he said.

In Brussels yesterday, acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he didn't want to get into "a row" about water.

But he added that Fianna Fáil had "left behind the programme for implementation of a charging regime for Irish Water".

"Clearly, the evidence is there of the economic models of what would be required were Irish Water to be abolished.

"The Fine Gael party are very clear on this - we retain a national single entity and a contribution regime.

"I think the Fianna Fail party seem to have oscillated between different points of view over the last month on this."

Irish Independent

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