39 TDs back motion to immediately scrap water charges

Thirty-nine opposition TDs have backed a Dáil motion to immediately scrap water charges and hold a referendum to prevent water services from privatisation, pressurising Fianna Fáil to refuse any deal that ignores their pre-election promises.

Sinn Féin, AAA-PBP, Social Democrats, the four-strong Independents for Change, and unaligned Independents Catherine Connolly, Seamus Healy, and Thomas Pringle confirmed the motion will be placed before the Dáil at the next available opportunity. The future of the utility continues to dominate government-formation talks.

Speaking at a joint press briefing outside Leinster House, the groups said that, regardless of any Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil deal, Micheál Martin’s party had an obligation to ensure water charges were scrapped, as it promised voters before the election.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said the need to scrap water charges is “a test of democracy”, while AAA-PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett said if Fianna Fáil backtracks, “people are going to hit the streets in the next few weeks”.

The move by the 39 opposition TDs is seen as an attempt to pressurise Fianna Fáil, regardless of any deal with Fine Gael.

Should Fianna Fáil’s 43 TDs support the motion, the proposals to scrap charges, and deliver a referendum, would receive the backing of 82 TDs, and would be automatically passed into law.

However, if the party rejects the plan or abstains, opposition groups are likely to claim Fianna Fáil is allowing Irish Water to continue.

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