Dáil votes to accept water report abolishing charges

The report says charges should be abolished except for excessive use

Dáil votes to accept water report abolishing charges

Photo: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

Water charges have effectively been abolished this afternoon.

The Dáil voted 96 to 48 to accept the report of the committee on the future funding of water services.

The report says charges should be abolished except for excessive use, a referendum on public ownership should be held and meters are to be installed in all new builds.

It's now over to housing Minister Simon Coveney to draft legislation to formally end the charging regime brought in by the last government.

Earlier today, Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe told Newstalk Breakfast the deal was the best outcome under the circumstances, but admitted the government did not handle it perfectly.

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.

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.