Sunday 22 April 2018

Property tax and water bills merger on table in talks

Party leaders Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin Photo:
Party leaders Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin Photo:

Kevin Doyle, Niall O'Connor and Cormac McQuinn

A merger of water charges and the property tax is on the table as a potential compromise to open the door to a minority government deal between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Irish Water remains the most contentious issue as senior politicians from both parties are set to meet as early as today to begin hammering out the terms of how a minority government could work.

With the next Dáil vote for selecting a Taoiseach looming on Thursday, there may be just days to stave off another election.

Fianna Fáil wants to suspend charges and abolish Irish Water in favour of a national directorate, while Fine Gael insists that payments for water must stay.

The Irish Independent has learned that figures in both parties are now talking up the idea of "amalgamating" water charges and the property tax into a so-called "household package".

This would allow Fianna Fáil to claim that charges have been effectively scrapped, while still potentially satisfying EU rules, according to a senior Fine Gael source. A high-ranking Fianna Fáil figure said the move could "bridge the gap" between the two parties.

Last night, sources in both parties said details of when and where today's likely meeting will take place have yet to be finalised. However, it will happen in a "neutral venue".

Irish Independent

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