Latest: Micheál Martin denies FF u-turn on water charges

Update 1.50pm: Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has today denied claims of a u-turn over Irish Water.

“Well actually, it’s quite consistent with the manifesto,” he said.

“If you read the manifesto, it talks about scrapping water charges, likewise in terms of submission to the Commission on Taxation.

Asked if he has been in consultation with his party, he responded: “There has been ongoing consultation.

“The water policy has been adopted since before the election. In the aftermath as well we’ve discussed it obviously in the context of the Confidence and Supply Agreement [with Fine Gael] as well.”

Earlier:

Water charges are “unlikely” to be reintroduced, the leader of Fianna Fáil has declared, ahead of a special commission deciding on the future of water services and how they should be funded, writes Juno McEnroe, Political Correspondent.

Micheál Martin also confirmed that his party will not back a Sinn Féin motion in the Dáil next week to abolish water charges, even though Fianna Fáil ultimately wants to scrap bills for households.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin addresses the media prior to the annual parliamentary party think-in at the Seven Oaks Hotel, Carlow. He confirmed his party will not support a Dáil motion by Sinn Féin next week to abolish water charges. Picture: Conor McCabe

He outlined how his party had effectively delivered the end to water charges after bills were frozen under the confidence and supply deal with the Fine Gael-minority government.

A government-appointed commission on water charges is due to produce a report on the future of managing services in November, after which an Oireachtas committee will examine the issue and the Dáil may act on it.

Mr Martin said charges, currently frozen, were ultimately unlikely to be reintroduced.

He said no Dáil motion could scrap water charges and that only a Dáil money bill could abolish bills.

He said the ‘confidence and supply’ deal with Fine Gael had “essentially got rid” of water charges.

“The only way that water charges can be reintroduced is via legislation by this Dáil and that is unlikely given the configuration of parties within the Dáil,” he said.

More than 90 TDs were elected to the Dáil this year on promises to reform or abolish charges.

Fianna Fáil, which supported the Government on the basis that bills were frozen, has told the commission charges should be abolished. The party rejects claims it has done a U-turn, in the event of a snap election being called.

Mr Martin said Fianna Fáil would remain “faithful” to the commission and there would not have been a government without it being set up.

However, he agreed that, regardless of the outcome of the commission, water charges were “unlikely” to be reintroduced.

Mr Martin was asked whether he thought the charges would be abolished.

“I do, but there are other wider issues besides just charges which fall to be considered,” he said.

He accused Sinn Féin, who are set to introduce a bill to scrap charges in the Dáil next week, of “playacting” in relation to their motion.

“Motions on their own cannot get rid of charges, only legislation can,” he said.

Sinn Féin says its motion presents Fianna Fáil with an opportunity to stop “flip-flopping” on the issue.

MEP Lynn Boylan said: “The reality is we do not have to wait nine months for a so-called expert commission to recommend the scrapping of water charges.

“The Dáil can vote in favour of abolition as early as next week and, in doing so, deliver what people actually voted for at the general election in February.

“They didn’t vote for a suspension of water charges. People want to see them scrapped.”

This story first appeared in the

Read More:
Irish Examiner.


Related Articles

Government should also commit to date for water ownership referendum

Brendan Howlin calls for delay in water charge refunds

Green Party believes some people will not want their refund from Irish Water

€270m Irish Water payment 'not connected to refunds', says Government

More in this Section

High Court hears HSE has no supported accommodation for mentally ill woman

High Court strikes out challenge to Dublin City Council's plans for 'homeless hub' in Clontarf

Taoiseach: We are 'far back from cliff edge' but EU must not 'sleep walk' to Brexit cliff

Second of six complainants returns to witness box in Dr Michael Shine case


Today's Stories

OPW to use demountable barriers in €140m Cork flood plan

Cork City Council defends mayor’s use of official car to drive him home from FF ard fheis

Medic: Savita died as result of abortion laws

Port of Cork's Captain Michael McCarthy named October 'Cork Person of the Month’

Lifestyle

Facing fears while terrifying punters at Cork's Nightmare Realm

Weathering the storm of 1961: We watched 30 large trees uprooted

Remembering the dead: Poignant reason behind Cork’s Zombie Walk

More From The Irish Examiner