Fine Gael oppose Fianna Fáil bid to freeze charges for lengthy period

Fine Gael ministers Simon Coveney and Paschal Donohoe at Trinity College for talks between Fine Gael

Fine Gael is opposed to attempts by Fianna Fáil to freeze water charges for a lengthy period. That position which looks set to ensure government formation talks roll on into the weekend.

Senior party figures are flatly rejecting efforts by their political rivals to effectively dismantle the billing system and stop payments until a way forward can be agreed.

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Fine Gael weekly parliamentary party meeting yesterday that he could not give it timeframe on when a deal for a minority government might be struck with Fianna Fáil.

The group was also reminded it had passed a motion earlier this month that water charges should not be abolished.

“We are working within those parameters,” said a source.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said every effort is being made to get a deal across the line and that both negotiating teams are “getting on well”.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said any agreement with Independents, whose support is needed, could only be agreed once talks were complete with Fianna Fáil.

“We’re on a lot of shaky ground now. This is all contingent on a number of things working out, there are so many ifs,” one TD said.

The 30-minute meeting also heard that a written document between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil is now expected to be produced.

However, Fine Gael TDs are nervous that if the talks do not have a successful end in the coming days, another general election could be on the cards.

One Fine Gael minister, speaking anonymously, said: “Fianna Fáil want to get rid of charges for five years, we can’t have that. If this [deal] doesn’t fecking happen by next week, there will have to be an election.”


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