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Sunday 19 November 2017

Water charges: Gilmore indicates Government tensions centre on ability to pay

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has indicated that the Labour Party's dissatisfaction over water charges centres around metering and the ability to pay.

Mr Gilmore refused to deny that Phil Hogan's proposals for the charge have sparked tensions between ministers.


There were tense exchanges at this morning's special cabinet meeting as Labour figures insisted that Fine Gael was attempting to "rail road" the proposals through.


Speaking to reporters at Dublin Castle, the Labour Leader said it is "never helpful" when issues are "trawled in the media" before being properly discussed by government.


And he said that there are issues that need to be ironed out over the coming weeks, which include metering and the ability of households to pay.


"I think it's important that we get the decision right. This is obviously a very major decision that the government has to make. There has been a degree of preparatory work done on it," Mr Gilmore said.


"But there are issues that clearly have to be addressed before a decision is made. And they include issues around ability to pay, issues around what happens in the case of households that will be metered because clearly the metering will not be completed until the end of the year," he added.


Asked about media reports which revealed today that the average household will be charged €240 per year, Mr Gilmore replied:


"I think it's never helpful that issues that have to be discussed by the government are trawled in the media in advance."


Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that ministers engaged in a "robust" discussion about water charges at today's special cabinet meeting.


She said both Fine Gael and Labour are"committed" to ensuring that the right decisions are made in relation to the roll-out of water charges.


"Clearly we had a very robust discussion, as we should have, in relation to water charges. This affects every household in the country and it is important. We are very determined to get it right and obviously that's what both parties intend to do and that's where the work will be focussed on over the coming," Ms Fitzgerald said.


"Both parties are committed to getting this right. There are a range of issues that have been identified which the Taoiseach has just outlined in the House, in terms of those with medical conditions, those who are living on their own perhaps with fixed incomes and we need a robust model going forward to deal with those issues and that's where the focus of discussion will be now. I'm confident that will be worked out and both parties are committed to working it out."

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