FG TDs disagree on whether to reimburse water charges to those who paid

FG TDs disagree on whether to reimburse water charges to those who paid

Update 2pm: Disagreement is emerging between Fine Gael TDs on whether or not water charges will be reimbursed.

The party has agreed a three-budget deal with Fianna Fáil and is expected to take office as a minority government this week. A vote will be held on Wednesday to elect a Taoiseach.

As part of the deal, water charges are being suspended for at least nine months and there are calls within Fine Gael for the fees to be reimbursed to those who paid.

Acting Environment Minister Alan Kelly said: "If charges are abolished, people are entitled to a refund."

And acting Arts Minister Heather Humphreys said people should be reimbursed if charges are abolished.

However, the party's Regina Doherty disagrees with reimbursing those who have paid.

"My mindset is about reintroducing the suspended charges, so my answer to (whether people who paid should be reimbursed) would be no. They are law-abiding citizens who abided by the law, and those who did not will be pursued," she said.

Deputy Doherty said she believed the water charges would be back within 12 to 18 months.

Fianna Fáil's stance on refunds is not yet clear. Party negotiator Niall Collins said today: "All I can say is water charges have been suspended and it will be a matter for Dáil Éireann to reinstate water charges if a vote is taken."

Earlier:

Anti Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy has questioned whether a Fine Gael-led minority government would be stable.

He also called for all those who paid water charges to be reimbursed, now that a suspension of at least nine months of charges has been negotiated between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

"We think anybody who paid water charges should now be refunded," he said.

"The amount set aside for the conservation grant for this year is about equal to what it would cost to refund everybody who paid for water last year, and the Government has to stop paying out that conservation grant now.

"Immediately, the charges should be scrapped, the arrears should be scrapped and everybody who paid should be refunded their money."

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness said the priority now needed to be the people of Ireland.

Deputy McGuinness said the new government needed to start easing the burden on struggling families.

"People's lives have been devastated. The banks have inflicted terrible pain on families, while they themselves were saved," he said.

"We need to look at actions that will ease the burden on families."

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