Government to receive report on water charges

An independent report recommending whether to scrap or continue controversial water charges is set to be given to the Government by the end of the month — sparking a fresh crisis for the coalition.

Environment Minister Simon Coveney confirmed the situation at Fine Gael’s parliamentary party meeting last night, amid separate debate over how public sector pay strikes and senator concerns over the lack of legislation being passed through the Dáil. Speaking at the weekly meeting of government TDs and senators, Mr Coveney said the independent expert water commission report remains on schedule and is due to be handed over to him within two to three weeks.

Once this occurs, he told colleagues it will set in train a schedule that will see the Oireachtas vote on whether to scrap, retain or reduce currently frozen water charges, a move which poses serious political dilemmas for Government parties.

In the same meeting, Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe gave an update on the ongoing public sector union industrial action threats alongside Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Education Minister Richard Bruton.

Mr Donohoe confirmed to the meeting that the ICTU agreed with him on Monday that any pay deals should be conducted on an across-the-board, collective basis with all unions and that further individual deals should not come in the wake of last week’s Garda Representatives Association agreement.

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