Opposition politicians have hit out at the Fine Gael move to ‘rebrand’ the €180 million Irish Water body in to a state agency – and Fianna Fail have been accused of the “betrayal” of their voters for considering the plan.
Pearse Doherty, Sinn Fein spokesman on finance, said the deal being discussed by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael was the “ultimate betrayal of Irish citizens who voted in the general election, who voted for the abolition of Irish Water and domestic water charges.”
Under the plan water charges will be suspended until a new charging system is introduced which based on consumption but with allowances.
Those who are unable to pay as much would also be given allowances.
Paul Murphy, Anti Austerity Alliance TD, told RTE: What we’re hearing about is the potential for a very dodgy deal between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to betray their election promise.
Fianna Fail’s manifesto during the general election was that they favoured the abolition of Irish Water.
50 per cent of people had not paid their water bill during the first quarter last year and the company have not released the latest statistics for this year.
Murphy believes these are being stalled because they will show more have stopped paying the bill.
But if the company is collapsed millions will be wasted and the future of 650 jobs would be under threat.
The TD said he did not consider the move to make the company a state body, with allowances for the poor, was a good idea, using the allowances touted for bin charges as a broken promise.
Bin charges have increased substantially across the state over the years as more private companies step in to the territory.
Murphy predicts the same will happen if water is allowed to be made a “commodity.”
You can give people whatever allowances but these will be diminished over time, and water will become a commodity with big corporations wanting to get their hands on it, Murphy said.
“Fianna Fail would be making a mistake to think the mandate they had is for something like this.
“Their manifesto was to abolish Irish Water.”
Several members of Fianna Fail informed a parliamentary party meeting the party should keep its stance that water charges should be suspended for five years.
Around 12 members of the party said they had campaigned on the issue, with five others saying there needed to be flexibility.
However, it seems that both parties, could make a compromise on the water issue because if a deal isn’t made it could spark another election.
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, one of the Fine Gael negotiators in the discussions said he was “reasonably optimistic” that talks with Fianna Fáil would be successful.
Fianna Fáil’s Charlie McConalogue said the party “needs to make sure the outcome [of the talks] is a stable minority government, and it’s going to take time.”
President Michael D Higgins stated it was important discussions end with the best interests of the public at heart.