Enda Kenny tells Irish public to 'pay their water bills'
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has said that people should pay their water bills despite uncertainty surrounding the future of Irish Water after the formation of a government.
He said it would be a "historic" mistake to get rid of a single national utility responsible for water.
Fianna Fáil has indicated the scrapping of water charges will be a red-line issue if it is to support a minority Fine Gael government headed by Mr Kenny.
Asked about the issue today, Mr Kenny said people "should pay their bills".
On The News at One today, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney also echoed the Taoiseach's remarks.
"We believe it was the right thing to do to set up a single utility company. It was the right thing to do to set up a fair charging system to contribute towards a big investment to fixing our water problems. That is still our view.
"We stand over a fair charging system," he said today.
"Let me be clear, we are not proposing to do away with water billls. We are not proposing to do away with Irish Water. People should pay their water bills and I will be paying it. We are likely to continue to have a fair charging system for water and a single utility company for that. We are committed to that."
He said that the Fine Gael parliamentary party is meeting tomorrow and they will set out the parameters in which "we can negotiate".
"It is my view that it would be a huge mistake to start reversing what has been a very difficult process setting a single utility which is now starting to work with an investment for €5.5billion for the six years.
"It is my view that if Fine Gael continues to be in Government there will be a single utility company and charging system."
Mr Kenny was asked this afternoon if Irish Water is dead and if he agreed with Mr Coveney's remarks last night regarding the party's willingness to move on water charges.
"Simon Coveney was correct in what he said in that Fine Gael as the largest party in this Dáil want to move on to put in place a process to form a government and part of that is we'll be prepared to listen to all groups and like-minded parties who have views about how that should happen.
"I want to say in respect of Irish Water that I think it would be a seriously costly and seriously historic mistake to move away from having a single national utility to provide water and clean water for the country, and for the future.”
He said he there should be a system where the public pays for water that is "fair and affordable".
He was speaking after it emerged that families who have paid their water bills will get no refund, even if the charges are abolished as part of a deal to keep Fine Gael in power.