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'no review' FF and FG shoot down prospect of a return to water charges

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No charge: Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have ruled out the prospect of water charges being reintroduced after a Green Party suggested charges should be explored by the coalition

No charge: Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have ruled out the prospect of water charges being reintroduced after a Green Party suggested charges should be explored by the coalition

No charge: Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have ruled out the prospect of water charges being reintroduced after a Green Party suggested charges should be explored by the coalition

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have shot down the prospect of water charges being reintroduced.

It comes after Green Party Junior Housing Minister Malcolm Noonan suggested the “possibility of introducing water charges should be explored” within the lifetime of the coalition.

The senior Housing Minister, Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien, last night said there will be “no review” of the issue.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: “The reintroduction of water charges is not in the Programme for Government, so it won’t be happening under this government.

“What we are introducing is charges for people who waste water or use excess water that’s coming into effect but that’s a very different thing.”

He said: “anything can be discussed” and he personally never thought water charges were a bad idea.

But, the Fine Gael leader told Newstalk: “The decision was made back under the last government that we wouldn’t have water charges. That was reaffirmed in the Programme for Government.”

Mr Noonan put the highly contentious issue back on the table with remarks he made in an interview with the Sunday Independent. He suggested the reintroduction of charges could be proposed alongside a future referendum to enshrine Irish Water in public ownership.

He said: “It does require political courage and also good messaging for us to appreciate that this is going to be the most significant resource challenge that we have in coming years.”

He said Dublin’s water supply is “teetering on the brink”, adding: “Water charges would certainly focus people’s attention on conserving what is a very scarce resource.”

Mr O’Brien last night outlined plans for investing in water services as he reacted to Mr Noonan’s remarks.

He said: “There will be no review of the domestic water charges issue, that issue has been dealt with.”

Mr O’Brien said the Programme for Government is clear on the Coalition’s plans for water and a €8.5bn package committed to in Project Ireland 2040 will be delivered.

He said there is planned investment of almost €90m between the Saggart Reservoir Project and Ballycoolen Trunk Watermain Project – both due to start in 2021.

“The Government are playing a pivotal role in ensuring our water supplies are sufficient to meet housing and development needs, and that legacy infrastructure deficiencies are dealt with and that compliance with environmental standards is strictly adhered to.”

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