A row has broken out between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael over comments made by a senior negotiator in the minority government talks, writes Elaine Loughlin of the Irish Examiner.
Leo Varadkar yesterday said it was “ridiculous” and “surreal” that Fianna Fáil had almost caused a second election on the issue of Irish Water.
Mr Varadkar added that his party still believes that water charges should be retained and would be fighting for this in the Dáil despite the fact that Fine Gael have agreed to suspend them as part of a deal with Fianna Fáil.
Reacting to the comments, Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath accused Mr Varadkar of acting purely in his own political interest.
He pointed out that Fine Gael is currently experiencing internal upheaval and Mr Varadkar may have been positioning himself for a future leadership bid when making the statements.
“Mr Varadkar’s comments were deeply unhelpful, inaccurate, misleading and self-serving.
“The reality here is it has taken two weeks of talks with Fine Gael for them to accept the principal that the question of water charges would ultimately be decided by the democratically elected TDs of Dáil Éireann."
Mr McGrath added: "It does beg the question does somebody who makes comments like that while negotiations are underway really want an agreement achieved?”
Speaking on the Today with Sean O’Rourke programme, Mr Varadkar said: "The fact that they went to the wire and threatened an election and threatened not to facilitate a new government on water, I think is ridiculous.
“It was all down to water charges that cost €3 a week and the worst thing is – and you know water charges are being suspended, they are not being abolished – but it’s the wrong thing to do. It’s not in the public interest to do this.”