Water charges freeze may go beyond 9 months, says Enda Kenny

Enda Kenny has signalled that the suspension of water charges could last longer than nine months if necessary, ahead of a commission examining the future of Irish Water’s charging regime.

Mr Kenny also confirmed that he held a discussion about a €278,000 European Bank job with Transport Minister Shane Ross, where the latter insisted on an open appointment for the post.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Kenny outlined the minority government’s priorities for the year, which include helping families with costs; lowering the USC; and tackling the housing crisis.

He admitted there is a possibility the water charges suspension could be longer than nine months — the current freeze period agreed with Fianna Fáil.

Environment Minister Simon Coveney told the Irish Examiner last week that he hoped Brussels would give Ireland “some flexibility in terms of the nine-month suspension, in order to allow Ireland go through the review process and the experts”.

Asked yesterday about extending the period, Mr Kenny said an Oireachtas committee would examine the outcome of a forthcoming commission on charges, and then decide if nine months is enough.

“That can only arise if the committee request it. The legislation, as I confirmed in the Dáil the other day, our intention would be that this would be for a nine-month period. But in the agreement that we had, we can’t determine whether the committee might look for an extension of that time or not. If they were to request an extension, an extension could be approved by the Dáil, but not for long.”

Elsewhere, Mr Kenny confirmed he held a discussion with Mr Ross over a senior job at the European Investment Bank.

As reported by the Irish Examiner last week, Alliance ministers said there was “debate behind the scenes” about the post of EIB vice president, which has a salary of €278,000 a year.

Mr Kenny said: “ What I discussed with Minister Ross — we have no difference of opinion here — is a process that can be accountable, transparent and above board for all of these appointments.”

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