Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil have accused each other of having more water charges positions “than the kama sutra” and of orchestrating a political “stunt” after a bill to scrap the fees failed to be passed by the Dáil.
The rival opposition parties clashed during a two-hour debate seeking the immediate abolition of the unpopular payments, which saw criticism from TDs that the row is taking attention away from other issues directly affecting the public.
After controversy earlier this month when Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said his party is now in favour of scrapping charges completely, Sinn Féin and other opposition TDs tabled a motion seeking the immediate abolition of the charges.
The move has been widely seen as an attempt to embarrass Fianna Fáil, as despite formally being in favour of the removal of the fees, the party does not want to scrap charges until an independent commission makes a recommendation on the matter in November.
In an attempt to highlight the criticism yesterday, Sinn Féin and opposition TDs said if Fianna Fáil is genuinely in favour of scrapping fees, it would support the bill to abolish charges now.
Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly said Fianna Fáil has had “more positions than the kama sutra” when it comes to water and that “people can tell the difference between abolition and suspension”.
Her colleague, housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Brioin, was equally critical, pointing to his Fianna Fáil counterpart Barry Cowen, who was at the time the only Fianna Fáil TD in the chamber, by telling him he had a Right2Water application form available for him to sign immediately if he really wanted charges scrapped.
However, Mr Cowen hit back, claiming Sinn Féin has been undergone its own U-turns, with TDs initially paying charges, wanting a commission and seeking fee refunds — all issues it now opposes. “Play your games, have your stunt, we’ll clear the stage. You can strut your stuff and flatter to deceive because that’s all you’ve ever done,” he said.
The debate on the water bill, which did not result in a Dáil vote after a Government counter-motion saying no decision should be made until the independent commission reports in November, was backed by AAA-PBP TDs but criticised for using up parliamentary time by Labour and Independent TD Dr Michael Harty.
“It’s a total waste of time, this is contrived,” said Labour’s Jan O Sullivan, before referencing Ms O’Reilly’s kama sutra comment by saying that after seven months of post-election “groundhog day” debate. the row does not have “the same excitement” as the ancient Indian text.
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