Fianna Gael pact overcomes water charge hurdle
Fianna Gael pact overcomes water charge hurdle


Sinn Fein has accused Fianna Fail of acting in coalition with Fine Gael by abstaining in a motion to scrap water charges.

This gave Fine Gael a winning margin to push through the deal reached with Fianna Fail during negotiations to form the new minority government in Dublin.

Under this deal - water charges will be suspended temporarily, to allow for the establishment of an independent commission.

Sinn Fein TD Eoin O’Broin said Fianna Fail has broken its promise to abolish Irish Water.

“They’re supporting the government and they’re supporting this government’s policy, and they are supporting the continuation of Irish Water, despite clear election promises to the contrary,” he said.

“And they’re supporting a motion that leaves the door open to water charges in the future, so Fianna Fail have to explain to their electorate why they promised to abolish Irish Water and water charges before the election and now are siding with the Government on these issues after the election.”

The original motion put forward by Sinn Fein was supported by a large number of Independent TDs and called for the immediate scrapping of Irish Water as well as an end to water charges.

The motion also called for a date to be set “for a referendum to enshrine the public ownership of water services in the Constitution of Ireland.”

AAAPBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett hit out at how Irish Water was set up and at the high salaries paid to some of its top staff

“The issue is do we pay for it fairly, or de we disproportionately impose the burden on the least well off - and that’s what water charges were doing,” he said.

Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins defended the decision not to vote against the abolition of Irish Water, saying his party plans to support future legislation to abolish water charges.

“We’ve played a progressive part in this, unlike other political parties, and what we saw in the Dail, spearheaded by Sinn Fein, the Anti-Austerity Alliance and indeed the People Before Profit was just simply petty politics.”

Independent Waterford TD John Halligan, now a minister of state in the new government, voted with the government on the motion, but only after a negotiation with Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. He had initially indicated he would support the Sinn Fein motion on the issue, before he realised that voting against the government would effectively have meant he would lose his job as a minister.

Meanwhile, another Independent TD on whom Enda Kenny’s government depends has warned he may not support the new administration on crucial votes.

Clare TD Dr Michael Harty has insisted he will approach any future votes on a strictly “case-by-case” basis. Dr Harty is one of eight Independent TDs who is voted for Mr Kenny, denied his support for the government had been withdrawn.

The practicising doctor, who was not appointed as a junior minister, insisted he is a “wholly Independent TD” despite pledging to back Mr Kenny in crucial votes.

A Fianna Fail official admitted that Dr Harty’s decision leaves the government in a “very tenuous” position.

“Our aim is not to pull it down unless we are adamantly against something, but if he loses another vote things will become very volatile and Kenny will have to watch every vote,” they said.

The new Labour party leader Brendan Howlin has said the new government may not survive more than a few months and will not last for more than a year: “It is intrinsically unstable. Any significant issue will knock it over because it does not have the support of the Dail or the public.”

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