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Fianna Fáil says suspending water charges for six to nine months is not viable

Talks on forming a government have ended without an agreement – again

Updated 23.55pm

25/04/2016 General Election 2016 - government form Pictured (L to R) Paschal Donohue TD, Leo Varadkar TD, Frances Fitzgerald TD and Simon Coveney TD as they arrive at TCD building on Pearse Street in Dublin today Source: Leah Farrell

TALKS BETWEEN FINE Gael and Fianna Fáil on forming a minority government have ended without agreement again.

A Fianna Fáil source told TheJournal.ie Fine Gael’s proposal of temporarily suspending water charges for a period of six to nine months has been rejected.

Fianna Fáil maintain they campaigned and were elected on the promise that water charges would be suspended for a period of five years.

Suspension of charges

The party maintains that nine months is just too short a time period to begin re-introducing water charges, stating that even after that time period, there still would not be enough political backing or public confidence to begin sending out bills to households again.

Fine Gael believes the time period of suspending water charges for three to five years is too long.

“They [Fine Gael] think they have moved mountains with this proposal.

“They have to look at the numbers – over 90 TDs are against water charges,” said the FF source.

Fianna Fáil also wants a Oireachtas Committee to be established to debate a commission report on Irish Water, something the FF claims was turned down by Fine Gael.

A Fianna Fáil source said Fine Gael need to realise they are only facilitating them in government and not going into government with them.

Fine Gael are now believed to be “entrenched” in their stance on water and aren’t budging, something that was also clear from some backbench TDs who said they “are duty bound” to uphold their ideals on water charges – with many stating they were frankly surprised at the suspension proposal.

It is now 59 days since the country went to the polls in the general election.

Sources say the two parties are due to meet again tomorrow. It’s believed discussions between the two party leaders will also continue.

Stalemate

Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin had a series of direct discussions over the weekend, as formal negotiations were suspended. Talks today were again unable to find an agreement. 

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24/04/2016. 1916 Easter Rising Centenary Commemora Source: RollingNews.ie

Earlier, heading into the talks today, Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue said:

There’s been significant engagement over the weekend as well between the party leaders in the two teams, so we are hoping to take things forward now. There’s a number of outstanding issues – health, education, housing and Irish Water, and we’re hoping to actually try and reach agreement as soon as we can if at all possible.

It’s understood that the terms of reference for a commission to examine the future of Irish Water will dominate discussions.

The charges themselves are another issue however. At the very least Fianna Fáil want them suspended for five years, while Fine Gael are sticking to their guns in saying that charges must remain in place.

McConalogue said today that any suspension is a matter to discuss between the two negotiation teams.

He said that “certainly we’re going into the talks with a view to trying to reach agreement”.

Meanwhile, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald told the media that some compromise was necessary in the talks.

Fianna Fáil leader Michéál Martin said today that he looks forward to the Irish Water issue being resolved “in the next day or two”, RTÉ reports.

It seems that discussions are now nearing the last chance saloon – if there is to be no compromise in the immediate future another election seems the only logical alternative.

- Additional reporting Christina Finn, Aoife Barry and Paul Hosford

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