Party is forced to clarify its stance on water charges
Fianna Fáil has been forced to clarify its position on water charges after the programme for the party's Ard Fheis indicated that a charging regime could be introduced after five years.
The party has previously insisted that it would not commit to charging households until the water system is brought up to an acceptable standard - which it says could take at least a decade.
But in a 12-point policy document circulated to all members ahead of today's conference in Dublin's City West venue, the party suggests a time frame of just five years until a charging regime is rolled out.
"On Water, we will abolish Irish Water and stop charges until the water system is fully fit for purpose. As a result, there will be no water charges for the next five years," the party says.
But last night, Fianna Fáil's Environment spokesman Barry Cowen insisted there was now "no possibility" of the party introducing water charges for at least a decade.
"Our position has always been the consistent. When the water system is fit for purpose - which will take at least another 10 years - then we will take about charges. Before that though, we will abolish Irish Water," the Laois/Offaly told the Irish Independent.
Asked if he believed the Ard Fheis programme would cause confusion for members and voters, Mr Cowen replied: "I have never confused anybody, especially the electorate."
Meanwhile, the Fianna Fáil policy document pledges that the party is "playing to win" ahead of the election.