Alan Kelly accuses Fianna Fáil of "environmental treason" over suspending water charges

Statements on Irish Water are being made in the Dáil

Alan Kelly accuses Fianna Fáil of "environmental treason" over suspending water charges

Alan Kelly | Image: Oireachtas screenshot

The Acting Environment Minister Alan Kelly has accused Fianna Fáil of committing "environmental treason" over plans to suspend the water charges.

Opening Dáil statements on water charges this afternoon, Mr Kelly lashed the proposal from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil as "political, economic and environmental sabotage".

He has also asked what it means for the near 5,000 people who work in water services - including the hundreds in the constituency of the Fianna Fáil leader.

He says that during the election campaign payment rates actually increased, and would have neared a 70% compliance rate.

"Decisions on Irish Water were rushed too quickly after the last government came in. I believe we are rushing this decision too", he told the Dáil.

"I fear we are about to throw that away and keep our water system in the 19th century. The Labour party stands by the people who chose to pay. We further stand behind acting responsibly and based on our values regardless of the political consequences".

"A former politician once stood in this house and accused Fianna Fail of economic treason - today, I believe Fianna Fáil are guilty of environmental treason and the Labour Party stands behind the important public service of water provision".

"Politics is failing the people of the country again. Utopian populism is winning again. It's Groundhog day. We will regret it, just as we did in '77", he added.

Mr Kelly has questioned if Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are acting within the law, and says if charges are scrapped households will have to get their money back.

Water charges has been among the most contentious issues featured in ongoing government talks between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

Last night, the party negotiation teams agreed that water charges may be suspended for nine months, and Irish Water as a utility will be examined.

Both leaders and their parliamentary parties will be consulted before a final decision is taken.

But Independent TD Clare Daly says Fianna Fáil should be careful about what deal they strike with Fine Gael.

Independent Alliance TD for Roscommon-Galway, Michael Fitzmaurice, says further clarity is needed regarding the temporary suspension of water charges.

He spoke to Newstalk Lunchtime earlier.

While Sinn Féin has called the latest deal on water charges an 'award-winning fudge'.

It is calling for a referendum to keep Irish Water under public control.

Deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald was highly critical of yesterday's deal. She was speaking to the Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk earlier.

Fianna Fáil campaigned for the abolition of Irish Water as part of its general election manifesto.

However Willie O'Dea says there is no sense that they have gotten 'one up' on Fine Gael.