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Dublin: 11°C Tuesday 24 November 2020

Are Enda and Joan facing another water charges mess?

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

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Everyone’s talking about…

We always knew that at some stage the government would be forced to front-up about just what sort of sanctions people will face for not paying water charges. Ironically through leaks last night and this morning it’s emerging that people could now face having unpaid bills deducted from their wages.

Global Irish Diaspora Policies Joan Burton and Enda Kenny Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

The details remain sketchy but the fact that Environment Minister Alan Kelly could not rule out people being taken to court and having unpaid bills taken from their incomes shows the government is now starting to talk tough on this issue.

Could it backfire? Last November, when he announced the water charges changes, Kelly sought to distance the coalition from the issue, saying it was “a matter for Irish Water” if people are taken to court. But there’s no doubt this would affect whoever’s in government. Crucially the possibility of any court action would not happen until well into 2016 and beyond the next election.

But it will be interesting to see the response to what’s now emerging. The Anti-Austerity Alliance are planning a ‘bill the bin’ demonstration next month where people will be encouraged to destroy their Irish Water bills. The government will be anxiously watching what sort of turnout there is for that. The tens of thousands on the streets at the weekend shows that this issue hasn’t gone away, as much as the coalition though it might have.

The agenda 

  • 10.30am: Ministers reconvene for their usual Tuesday morning cabinet meeting after their Paddy’s Day trips. 
  • 1.30pm: The Jobs Committee will spend the afternoon scrutinising the legislation setting up the Low Pay Commission with Minister Ged Nash and interest groups. 
  • 3.15pm: Enda Kenny will take Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil. 

enda close up Source: EU Council

  • 3.30pm: The Health Committee is scrutinising the bill that introduces minimum alcohol pricing with advertisers and alcohol retailers in before TDs and Senators. 
  • After 5pm: The government will move the bill giving affect to the referendum – if passed – to lower the age at which you can run for president from 35 to 21. 
  • 5.15pm: The banking inquiry meets in private session. 
  • 7.30pm: The Technical Group are keeping water charges on the agenda by bringing a private members’ motion calling for a “mass non-payment” of bills before the Dáil this evening. The Socialist Party is leading with support from Clare Daly, Richard Boyd Barrett and Finian McGrath. A press conference is also planned for 11am

Inside Leinster House

Over the weekend the nascent Independent Alliance was subjected to stinging criticism from Fine Gael TD Aine Collins over its lack of women. But one TD involved with the group insisted to us yesterday that “we’ll have the women” with a number of female councillors set to be unveiled when the alliance is launched sometime next month.

What the others are saying 

  • Joan Burton has ruled out any ‘conscience clause’ for businesses who do not want to provide goods and services for same-sex weddings, the Irish Independent says. 
  • The same paper reports that Enda Kenny is remaining tight-lipped on the Fennelly Commission. The Irish Daily Mail says Fianna Fáil will raise the issue in the Dáil again today. 
  • The Irish Independent also reports on a rumour going around Leinster House that Pat Rabbitte could take over George Hook’s Newstalk programme. The former Labour minister isn’t ruling it out. 
  • The Irish Times says that John O’Donoghue’s decision to rule himself out of the race to be the Fianna Fáil candidate in Kerry has cleared the way for a two-candidate strategy by the party, 

In case you missed it

On the Twitter machine

Lorraine Higgins continues to highlight the abuse she receives… 

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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