Sinn Féin denies water-charges motion is attempt to embarrass Fianna Fáil

Sinn Féin denies water-charges motion is attempt to embarrass Fianna Fáil

Sinn Féin has denied that tonight's Dáil motion to abolish water charges is only focussed on embarrassing Fianna Fáil - despite repeatedly accusing the rival party of "flip-flopping" on the issue write Fiachra Ó Cionnaith and Daniel McConnell.

Front bench spokesperson Eoin O Broin insisted his party is not using its first opportunity to put a motion to the new Dáil to create minority government divisions, as he hit out at Fianna Fáil specifically this morning.

Speaking to reporters while holding the Fianna Fáil election manifesto, Mr O Broin repeatedly lashed out at Micheal Martin's party for failing to back the Sinn Féin/Right2Water motion seeking the immediate abolition of charges.

However, in five separate references to Fianna Fáil during a six-minute joint media interview in which his own party was also criticised for u-turns on water, the housing, planning and local government spokesperson insisted the rival party is "flip-flopping" on the issue.

"This is the Fianna Fáil manifesto. It has four separate references to water. All four call for the abolition of Irish Water or the abolition, scrapping or ending of water charges.

"I've read Fianna Fáil's counter-motion today [to the Sinn Féin/Right2Water motion] and it doesn't guarantee the abolition of Irish Water.

"On the contrary to what it claims, the deal between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael doesn't guarantee the abolition of water charges.

"The message Sinn Féin is saying is Micheal Martin is talking a lot about new politics in recent weeks.

"He's talked a lot about keeping election promises, so if he wants to keep election promises and the four explicit references in this document, what he should do is vote for the Sinn Féin motion and keep to his word," Mr O Broin said.

Asked if the Sinn Féin/Right2Water motion is designed to embarrass Fianna Fáil as it is almost certain to fail to be passed by the Dáil, he added: "If anybody's embarrassing Fianna Fáil it's themselves. Not Sinn Féin or the Right2Water TDs.

"If anybody is embarrassed about breaking their word then they need to address those questions to themselves and most importantly to their electorate."

Questioned on why this motion was considered a priority by Sinn Féin instead of the health and housing crises, Mr O Broin admitted water charges are not "the most pressing issue in the State" but needs to be addressed before other matters can be resolved.

In its first opportunity to put forward a private members motion in the new Dáil today, Sinn Féin has put down a motion to be heard tonight and tomorrow calling for the abolition of water charges and for a date to be set for a referendum.

The motion is supported by 23 Sinn Féin TDs and 16 Right2Water TDs consisting of six from the Anti-Austerity Alliance/People before Profit, three Social Democrats, four members of Independents4Change and three Independents.

A counter motion will be put down by the Fine Gael-led Government calling for the existing plan to suspend charges for nine months while an independent commission examines the situation.

However, in an attempt to avoid having to vote with Government, Fianna Fáil will vote against the Sinn Féin motion, abstain on the Fine Gael motion and instead put down a similar but separate motion to Fine Gael also calling for the existing plan to be followed.

The make-up of the current Dáil means none of the motions will be carried, resulting in a parliamentary stalemate.

However, during tonight's debate opposition TDs are expected to repeatedly target Fianna Fáil for failing to support a motion to scrap charges, while the motion has already caused divisions within the minority government after new junior minister and Independent Alliance TD John Halligan was forced to back-track on plans to support the abolition motion.

Meanwhile, speaking at the same water charges motion media doorstep, Mr O Broin denied suggestions his own party has u-turned on the matter since it first emerged.

Asked how Sinn Féin can have any credibility on the issue due to the fact it has changed its position at various stages on rebates, the establishment of a commission to examine charges and potential redundancies for Irish Water staff, the TD insisted this was not the case.

"We didn't flip flop on anything," he said.

"On the issue of rebates before the election we didn't know how much it was going to be, in our view at that stage there wasn't sufficient funds to write a blank cheque.

"We now know it's €144m so at least we can have a conversation about a real figure and Michael Noonan is telling us there's €1.5bn in extra money, so circumstances have changed and as circumstances change we can reconsider rebates.

"On the commission, we haven't flip-flopped either.

"We want to abolish Irish Water, abolish the charge. end the metering, hold a referendum, and then in terms of the the future delivery of water services have something to look at that specific issue. So no flip-flop there.

"Our position has always been we do not want to see compulsory redundancies. If there were cuts, we don't know where but they would be voluntary.

"On those three issues we've been consistent throughout, the only people who have not been consistent is Fianna Fáil," he added.

More on this topic

Bacteria which causes kidney failure found in 62 private water suppliesBacteria which causes kidney failure found in 62 private water supplies

Book reveals former finance minister opposed water meters but was overruled by Enda KennyBook reveals former finance minister opposed water meters but was overruled by Enda Kenny

Government accused of delaying potential referendum on public ownership of waterGovernment accused of delaying potential referendum on public ownership of water

Water referendum must 'not be rushed', says Eoghan Murphy Water referendum must 'not be rushed', says Eoghan Murphy


More in this Section

11 arrested following seizure of €40k of drugs, illegal firearms and a car11 arrested following seizure of €40k of drugs, illegal firearms and a car

West Cork fishmongers closes due to ongoing roadworksWest Cork fishmongers closes due to ongoing roadworks

'How does that represent change?' - Social Democrats TD would be 'massively uncomfortable' with FF/FG govt'How does that represent change?' - Social Democrats TD would be 'massively uncomfortable' with FF/FG govt

'Unfinished business': Over 1,000 SIPTU and Fórsa members strike in pay restoration dispute'Unfinished business': Over 1,000 SIPTU and Fórsa members strike in pay restoration dispute


Lifestyle

They differ from the more prevalent oranges we eat because their flesh, and often the skin, is crimson or deep red in colour.Michelle Darmody: The best time of year to buy blood oranges

The annual Members Exhibition now underway at the Lavit Gallery in Cork features 92 works from 72 artists.The exhibition runs until March 7.Under the hammer: Your guide to upcoming auctions

There’s an oriental theme at the James Adam ‘At Home’ auction in Dublin, says Des O’SullivanAuctions: Sale full of eastern promise

Sales of artisan sourdough bread are on the rise. It's all very well if you're happy to pay for a chewy substantial loaf but does it have any real health benefits? Áilín Quinlan talks to the expertsFlour power: The rise and rise of sourdough bread

More From The Irish Examiner