Micheál Martin says Irish Water "had to be dealt with" before new government can be formed

The Fianna Fáil leader says the substantial talks were necessary

Fianna Fail, Micheal Martin, Newstalk Lunchtime

Image: Photocall Ireland

Micheál Martin says the new minority Government would not have lasted more than a number of months if the issue of water charges had not been dealt with.

Speaking to Newstalk Lunchtime, the Fianna Fáil leader made the point that up to 90 TDs were elected on "an anti-water charges mandate" so a decision was important before a Taoiseach could be elected.

He says Fianna Fáil didn't "hang the whole deal" on Irish Water and that there were a number of issues that needed discussion time such as homelessness, rent allowance, health.

Yesterday, the new government Chief Whip Regina Doherty said that the suspension of charges will begin in June at the end of the current billing cycle.

The suspension is expected to last nine months, but Deputy Martin believes it will last longer than that.

"The water charges regime as we know it, I think, is gone."

He further clarified that it is now up to the new government to decide on the charges, but the policies of the last Dáil "won't be imposed on the newly elected Dáil."

He also stated that there has been a "commitment" from the incoming government that it will be a "public utility" and he believes it will evolve into a "national public agency", eventually.

Deputy Martin also defended the suggestion that his party had broken their promise to abolish water charges, reiterating they are not in government.

"We're in opposition".