Water charges: Angry scenes in the Dail as Kenny slams Fianna Fail as ‘opportunistic hypocrites’

In 2012, the Taoiseach said we would be voting to insert an article in the Constitution “dedicated entirely to children as individuals, as citizens in their own right” - that hasn't happened yet

John Downing

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny said Fianna Fail were ‘opportunistic hypocrites’ in opposing water charges.

Amid angry Dail scenes Mr Kenny brandished an FF policy document which outlined planned water charges of €400 per year.

The debate occurred amid reports that an average family faces a yearly water charge of about €248 per year starting from next October.

These government-sourced reports have caused serious tensions between the government parties with Labour angry at a lack of consultation before these details were made public.

The debate also comes as campaigning in local and European elections steps up with polling day on May 23 just five weeks away.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said Fine Gael had kept Labour ‘in the dark’ over the issue and more importantly had not told the public the full truth.

Mr Kenny told the Dail that Government today discussed plans for water charges – but had taken no firm decisions.

He said a number of important items – including help for those who cannot pay the charges – had yet to be discussed in more detail.

“This is about, equity, affordability and fair play,” the Taoiseach said.

The Taoiseach said Irish Water was set up to provide capital investment in water services across the country.

EU government debt rules meant the Irish Water state subsidy had to be kept down to about €537 million per year for the next two years.  If that was exceeded the national debt would increase considerably.

Mr Kenny said that without the government subsidy water charges would be €580 per year.