Water deal is 'best outcome achievable in the circumstances' - Donohoe

The Dáil votes this lunchtime on water charges, with household bills set to end

Water deal is 'best outcome achievable in the circumstances' - Donohoe

Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

A senior Government Minister says the way the water crisis has been dealt with should not be seen as a recipe for dealing with other issues facing the country.

After the water committee finalised their report earlier this week, the Dáil votes this lunchtime on the water charges regime brought in by the last Government.

The vote - which is supported by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael - will effectively end household water charges. 

However, those who excessively use water will still face the possibility of charges.

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe says it is the best outcome under the circumstances - but admits they have not handled it perfectly.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Minister Donohoe explained: "While I wish we were in a different place - and I acknowledge the mistakes that were made in the setup and handling of this matter - [these] are very important outcomes that at least give us the ability to be able to manage the needs for our water system in a better way than we have in the past."

However, he also warned: "I think we have a real and present risk in the Dáil in the moment, which is the lure that everything can be paid for out of a fixed amount of tax revenue - or, to put it more plainly, that the taxpayer will be able to pay for everything.

"I think what we have achieved in relation to water is doable, but it is not a recipe for how we can handle far bigger matters facing our country - like the approaching Budget; like the need to spend wisely in our roads and our universities; like how we need to manage public pay.

He added: "Fianna Fáil had to compromise, as Fine Gael did. Compromise is the very opposite of what populism involves."

The final Oireachtas committee report was opposed by Sinn Féin, Labour, the Greens, Solidarity-PBP, and independent members of the committee.

Sinn Féin's Eoin Ó Broin yesterday said: “We will be watching the progress of the legislation arising from the Water Committee’s report very closely. We will continue to hold Fianna Fáil to their election commitments."

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett, meanwhile, says the victory on water charges is only a partial one that has left a 'bitter taste'.

He suggested the Government 'desperately wants' to leave the door open for reintroducing charges in the future.