Dáil set to debate water charges tomorrow, as government talks continue

Micheal Martin says he is prepared to go "back to the ballot box"

Dáil set to debate water charges tomorrow, as government talks continue

File photo | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Dáil looks set to debate water charges tomorrow, but a vote on scrapping or suspending them is unlikely.

Fianna Fáil says it can no longer support Fine Gael in blocking the issue from being debated in the chamber by TDs.

It comes as the two parties continued talks Tuesday night in an effort to facilitate a minority government.

But it is understood they are unable to reach agreement on water charges and have effectively parked the issue for now.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams says Dáil statements on water charges are no good, unless TDs can vote on scrapping them at the end of it:

Fianna Fáil had said negotiations are now at "end game", while Fine Gael said talks are at "an important and difficult point".

Just after 5.00pm the negotiation teams resumed the talks at Trinity College in Dublin.

As he went into the talks, Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath says it is no longer tenable that the Dáil would not debate water charges - and this should even happen as soon as tomorrow.

He also said Fianna Fáil would vote in the Dáil on the order of business to force such a debate, though it would only be a debate and not a motion to scrap charges.

The parties remain deadlocked on the issue.

It appears Fianna Fáil is willing to tolerate the re-introduction of charges as Fine Gael wants - but only after a suspension lasting a number of years, not months.

"Back to the ballot box"

The Fianna Fáil leader said earlier he was prepared to go "back to the ballot box" for an election dominated by water, if that is the will of other parties.

Mr Martin rejected accusations he was colluding to silence the Dáil on the water issue, but said now was not the time for such a debate.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein TD for Dublin Central - Mary Lou McDonald - said that the elected politicians need to 'get real' and 'sort things out' as a matter of urgency.

And the acting public reform minister said it may be time to consider going back to voters.

Brendan Howlin says a Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael minority government is the most realistic option - but there are two more possibilities.

"It seems as if Fianna Fail is moving closer to the Sinn Fein position on Irish Water, so maybe if Fianna Fail and Sein Fein exercise that mandate, that would be close to a majority as well".

"Or, if that's not possible, we ask the people to elect into the Dail deputies who are willing to take on the responsibility of government".

Fine Gael is adamant a suspension of charges cannot be for any longer than nine months, but Fianna Fáil says they have to go for the length of the 32nd Dáil.

Acting Environment Minister Alan Kelly could not understand why this is a make or break issue.

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