Tuesday 16 July 2019

Tanaiste told Labour will 'evaporate' over water charges shambles

Niall O’Connor and John Downing

TANAISTE Joan Burton has been warned the Labour Party will “evaporate” at the next election over the Government’s shambolic handling of water charges.

During a highly charged Labour Parliamentary Party meeting, TDs and senators openly predicted the party’s demise.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny heard dozens of Fine Gael TDs express their "exasperation" at the ongoing failure to deal with the Irish Water debacle.

At the Labour meeting several TDs and senators voiced serious concern that the party’s electoral hopes are now in jeopardy at the next general election.

Several sources confirmed that it was the most highly charged Labour meeting in quite some time.

“Joan looked worried. She appeared taken aback by the level of concern about the upcoming election,” one source said.

Eamonn Maloney, a Labour TD for Dublin South West, said at the meeting that many of those who protested against the water charges in Tallaght are from middle class areas.

Arthur Spring, a Kerry TD, warned the Labour leadership that the party will “evaporate” at the next election.

Former minister Pat Rabbitte urged colleagues to row behind Environment Minister Alan Kelly in his bid to resolve the water charges issue.

At the Fine Gael meeting, several speakers said the Government had delivered a politically clever budget but got no benefits and now was not reaping credit for Ireland being the EU's fastest growing economy.

Mr Kenny told the meeting that a new comprehensive scheme of Irish Water charges and supports would be announced within the coming two weeks. He remained calm throughout while listening to a litany of complaints and assured the meeting the issue will be resolved.

"We appear so incompetent on issues like Irish Water that there is a danger that the troika will get all the credit for fixing the economy and we will just get blamed for messing up," one FG backbencher told Independent.ie.

"The mood was not one of anger - because we have done that. There was a huge feeling of exasperation that we cannot fix things more quickly," one TD said.

Dublin South East FG TD, Eoghan Murphy, said the underlying cause of all the problems was a lack of Dail reform. The Taoiseach said things were much better than they had been under Garret FitzGerald in the 1980s - and Dail reform would be addressed after the current Irish Water problems were resolved.

Online Editors

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