Compromise could be closer on water charges

Fine Gael has agreed to seek new legal advice

Compromise could be closer on water charges

Minister Simon Coveney speaks to the media in Dublin | Image:

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil may be moving towards a compromise that could avoid a government collapse over water charges.

Fine Gael has agreed to seek new legal advice on whether a total abolition of charges would be in keeping with European Union rules.

 While Fianna Fáil says it accepts the need to curb excessive water use, but insists this can be done under existing laws.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny again insisted on Thursday the Government will not facilitate any new system of water charges which is contrary to EU law.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney had said he cannot abolish water charges in their entirety - claiming it would result in large fines imposed on Ireland by Europe.

On Wednesday, the Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Water failed to reach an agreement on a total abolition of charges.

A new draft of the final report is set for debate next Tuesday.

Speaking Friday, Minister Coveney says he hopes the two parties can work together but they will have to listen to the legal advice.

"The core issue here is that any recommendations that we vote on in the Oireachtas, and decisions we make that need to be legislated for, need to be legally sound.

 "We cannot have a situation where we risk opening the country up to tens of millions of euros in fines and penalties linked to water.

"Water is already costing us enough".