Leo Varadkar defends comments made on water charges

Fianna Fail have blasted the Acting Health Minister on his statements made during interviews today

Leo Varadkar's defended comments he made earlier today which Fianna Fáil says were "unhelpful" to the process of forming a Government.

The Acting Health Minister suggested Fianna Fáil making water charges a make or break issue in talks was "ridiculous" and "bizarre".

In a series of radio interviews today Leo Varadkar questioned why Fianna Fáil had taken a stand on water charges.

And the Acting Health Minister said suspending charges was not in the public interest:

"That's the issue that they decided was of huge national importance, that they were willing to threaten the second election on it. It's bizarre."

The response from Fianna Fáil - the comments were deeply unhelpful, inaccurate and self-serving. Party negotiator Michael McGrath:

"For any minority government to have a prospect of succeeding, there has to be a based on trust, good will and mutual respect, and Minister Varadkar's comments today will not lead us in that direction."

He says Fianna Fáil weren't going to throw the toys out of the pram over this and suggested Leo Varadkar's leadership ambitions were at play:

"There is a succession issue ongoing within Fianna Gael. You don't have to question why those hard-line comments would be made at this time."

This evening Leo Varadkar was back on the airwaves, sticking to his earlier comments and making it clear it wasn't going to be all friendly with Fianna Fáil:

"They're still going to be in opposition. They're not going to give us an easy time in government, and we're not going to give them an easy time in opposition, either."

Meanwhile talks between the two parties have yet to resume today - it's understood there's a dispute over whether legislation to suspend water charges should include a provision for a final Dáil vote on their future.