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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 20 November, 2019
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'Reasonably quickly': Kenny and Gilmore still can't say when they'll decide on water charges

Amid pressure on the government to spill the beans before voters go to the polls on 23 May there may not be a decision after tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting, Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore indicated today.

Enda Kenny with a timely bottle of water and flanked by Phil Hogan, Eamon Gilmore and Richard Burton in Mullingar today
Enda Kenny with a timely bottle of water and flanked by Phil Hogan, Eamon Gilmore and Richard Burton in Mullingar today
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE TAOISEACH AND the Tánaiste have indicated there may not be a decision on how much households will have to pay for water following tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting.

Despite pressure on the coalition to reach an agreement on water charges before the local and European elections on 23 May neither Enda Kenny nor Eamon Gilmore were today committing to having the issue resolved by the end of tomorrow’s meeting.

Labour has said it has “substantive differences” with Fine Gael over water charges particularly in relation to people’s ability to pay and the fact that most of the water meters will not be installed by the time Irish Water starts producing bills.

Speaking in Mullingar today, Gilmore said: “We are discussing that issue in government. I hope that we will be able to arrive at a conclusion reasonably quickly.”

Insisting it is his hope that a solution will be arrived at in the “not too distant future”, Gilmore acknowledged it would have been better if the issue had been decided three months ago.

“I think it is important that we make the decision as soon as possible, and that’s what we’re working towards, but it’s also important that we get it right,” he said.

For his part, Kenny said that while he knows “the media always like to have exact times” there is a “responsibility to get this right”. 

He highlighted the need to cater for “vulnerable sectors out there” and people whose medical needs mean they will require extra water.

“We hope to conclude the matter shortly,” he said.

The Taoiseach said that the establishment of Irish Water will result in “high quality, pristine water for consumers” and will change the culture of water usage in Ireland where people will be encouraged to conserve water to save money.

He added: “I think there will be a significant change in the culture of Irish people using water in the future.”

Gilmore: I find it hard to understand why people are blocking Irish Water from installing meters

Read: Labour minister brands fixed water charges as “ridiculous”

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Hugh O'Connell

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