Dispute over whether Leo Varadkar compared water meters to e-voting machines

Fianna Fáil insists alleged quote made during government negotiations discussions

Leo Varadkar, microphone, funny

File photo: RollingNews.ie

Fianna Fáil has insisted that Minister Leo Varadkar compared water meters to e-voting machines during government formation talks.

The party earlier accused the Fine Gael TD of claiming the meters were their “e-voting machines multiplied by 10”.

Mr Varadkar criticised Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin for making the allegation, saying his remarks had been distorted. 

But Fianna Fáil environment spokesperson Barry Cowen maintains the quote is an accurate reflection of what was said during the negotiations:

Earlier today, Mr Martin said the new minority government would not have lasted more than a number of months if Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael had not dealt with the issue of water charges.

In an interview on Newstalk Lunchtime, he said that 90 TDs were elected on "an anti-water charges mandate" in February's general election, making it important that a decision on the matter was reached. 

New government chief whip Regina Doherty confirmed yesterday that the charges will be suspended at the end of the current billing cycle in June. 

The so-called “confidence and supply arrangement” agreed between the old civil war rivals will also see an external advisory body being established to advise a special Oireachtas committee on “measures needed to improve the transparency and accountability of Irish Water”.

The group will pay particular attention to the company’s “procurement, remuneration and staffing policies” under the terms of the government deal.

Legislation to suspend the water payments is expected to last nine months, but Mr Martin told Newstalk he could not see the charges returning in their current form. 

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