Latest: Parties welcome Joe O’Toole's decision to step down as water charges commission chairman

Latest: Parties welcome Joe O’Toole's decision to step down as water charges commission chairman

Update 7.29pm: Fianna Fáil has this evening welcomed the decision of Joe O’Toole to step down as Chair of the Expert Commission on Water, but says it does not take pleasure in his departure.

"We were not consulted on Joe’s appointment, but we did welcome it," said Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Housing, Planning and Local Government, Barry Cowen.

"He is a man with a strong record of public service. It is Joe’s activities since his appointment that have led to today."

However, Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy said that his party deserves credit for forcing Mr O'Toole out.

"We were putting pressure on FF and asking how FF stand over this," he said.

"FF felt under pressure, then they pulled support."

He added: "The starting point from all of these issues, if you track them back, is the Left, reflecting the attitudes and interests of ordinary people, working class people out then, and in turn putting pressure on FF, which then in turn is the final domino in terms of Joe O'Toole falling."

Earlier:

The chairman of the expert commission on water charges Joe O’Toole has announced he is to step down from his position after comments he made in a candid interview in the Irish Examiner last week.

Mr O’Toole had said he found it “extraordinary” that left wing politicians are “opposed” to the ‘polluter pays’ principle and they, including AAA TD Paul Murphy, were “completely and utterly wrong” on the issue.

In a statement released this afternoon O’Toole confirmed he is withdrawing from the position of chair of the commission.

“It had been my firm intention to remain as Chair of the Expert Commission on Water,” read O’Toole.

“I was looking forward to progressing the important work of the Commission and proving my critics wrong. That was until Minister Coveney informed me that the main opposition party would not cooperate with Government on this and related issues for as long as I remained in the Chair.

“Effectively then for me to remain in situ would result in the Government being spancilled in implementing policy and enacting legislation. Despite the support of Minister Coveney this is a situation I am not prepared to countenance and therefore I am withdrawing from the position of Chair.

“Walking away is disappointing but it is the right thing to do in these circumstances. There are enough problems facing the Government without me adding to them.”

More as we get it…

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