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Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen says he is not ruling out future water charges

Last week, party leader Micheál Martin said the charges were gone for good.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

FIANNA FÁÍL HOUSING spokesman Barry Cowen said this evening that he is not against people paying for water.

The party has repeatedly been accused of flip-flopping on the issue with leader Micheál Martin saying just last week that he “doesn’t think they’re {water charges} coming back”.

Speaking this evening on RTÉ’s Drivetime, Cowen said he could see people paying for water on top of their general taxation.

He said: “Water charges is not a religion. Water charges is a means to raise funds.

“It’s not ‘no, never’.  I have always said, personally speaking, that in the event of making the system fit for purpose, through a capital investment programme, we can arrive at a scenario whereby it can be measured against European norms in relation to cost-effectiveness, in relation to staffing levels, in relation to leakage, in relation to quality of service and of water.

That, if you reach those European norms, you may then look at a process whereby people may pay for water over and above their general taxation.

Martin had said last week that he believed water charges would not be returning.
He said: “We said before the election we were against water charges. We didn’t want water charges. We wanted to abolish water charges.”

Sinn Féin had claimed that Micheál Martin’s party had more positions than the Kama Sutra on the issue of paying for water.

In an interview with TheJournal.ie in October of this year, Fianna Fáil TD Thomas Byrne also said the charges were gone for good.

Water charge protest - Dublin Water charges have been a divisive issue Source: PA Archive/PA Images

He said: “The bills won’t be coming back…water is gone.We are going to look at the commission when it comes out, but I can’t see Fianna Fáil supporting them in this government, they won’t be back.”

It also emerged this evening that independent senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh is to chair the committee on water.

The water commission report is due to be published in the coming days.

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