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Taoiseach confirms water bills will be around €240, but nothing signed off on yet

During a heated debate Micheál Martin said the Government was treating the public with “absolute contempt”.

Enda Kenny got animated in the Dáil today
Enda Kenny got animated in the Dáil today
Image: Screengrab/Oireachtas TV

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has said that nothing has been “signed off on” following the Cabinet meeting on water charges this morning.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin asked Kenny if a deal was not reached because the Labour party “angrily raised” the fact that a circular was released to the media before they were fully consulted.

Kenny denied this was the case.

Martin said that “the public are being treated with absolute contempt” by the Government’s lack of transparency regarding the cost of water meters and standing charges.

He slammed the “extravagant” €180 million set-up of Irish Water.

In a robust debate Kenny hit back: “I take very little notice of opportunist hypocrites of which you are the leader” before reading from a previous Fianna Fáil four-year plan which stated that the party would introduce water charges at an annual cost of €400 per household.

Kenny confirmed that the Government expected the annual bill for houses to be around €240, with a standing charge of around €50.

Public Consultation

He said a two-week public consultation process on Irish Water would begin tomorrow, during which allowances for vulnerable groups would be looked at.

Kenny also noted that the Department of the Environment and the CSO were engaged in “intensive” negotiations to ensure the water charges are in line with Eurostat rules.

Martin replied that the public did not care about European targets, rather “what bill they will receive in the last quarter of this year”.

Restoring Order

The Ceann Comhairle had to ask for order to be restored on a number of occasions, once stating:

“Would you stay quiet for God’s sake” and telling Kenny “I’ll have to ask you to finish because they’re not listening to you”.

Kenny said that both Fine Gael and Labour were “united” in ensuring that water charges were “fair, equitable and as affordable as possible”.

He added that Irish Water had to be set up to deal with the “completely inferior infrastructure” currently in place.

When Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams criticised the Government’s handling of the issue, Kenny said that Adams had welcomed the €980 annual household charge in Northern Ireland “with open arms”.

Related: ‘No agreement… and no agreement that we’ll have an agreement’: Cabinet row over water

Read: The government has so much work on right now it’s having an extra Cabinet meeting today

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Órla Ryan

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