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Dublin: 12°C Wednesday 21 April 2021

The government will have to take one more hit on water charges - but will it be fatal?

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

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Everyone’s talking about… 

Water charges and the company administering them are now firmly back on the agenda. This morning, Irish Water says it will send out hundreds of thousands of water bills that will be incorrect. In some ways, this is no surprise given the complexities of billing households in a way they’ve never been billed before, but it’s not a good news story for the beleaguered utility.

FullSizeRender (1) Alan Kelly in the Dáil last night Source: Oireachtas TV

Alan Kelly’s strong intervention on the issue of fines and sanctions for not paying has been greeted with trepidation by government TDs over the last 24 hours. One minister admitted privately yesterday that the coalition would have to take “one more hit” on the water charges issue with bills set to land in the coming weeks and more protests planned.

The big test will be the level of compliance. If people pay then this issue might just fade away. But if they don’t, and there is the mass non-compliance the anti-water charges movement hopes for, it could yet damage the government beyond repair.

In which case, Alan Kelly’s legacy, which he often talks about, will be as bad as the suit he wore in the Dáil last night… 

The agenda 

  • 9.30am – 4.30pm: The banking inquiry holds all-day hearings on the role of the media in the crisis with UCD’s Dr Julen Mercille, DIT’s Harry Browne and Irish Editor Tim Vaughan and CEO Tom Murphy before the committee. 
  • 9.30am: Meanwhile the Communications Committee has RTÉ officials in to discuss the policies in place to prevent political bias in programming and reporting. 
  • 12pm: Enda Kenny takes Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil. One of his opponents will be raring to go.

  • 1.15pm: The Seanad debates the bill that would give effect to the same-sex marriage referendum if it is passed. This will be worth keeping an eye given not all in Fianna Fáil are understood to be supportive of the referendum, despite the leadership’s view. 
  • 2.30pm: Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan is before the Justice Committee to discuss her annual policing plan for this year. 
  • 7.30pm: The Dáil votes on the AAA’s water charges motion. The government will win the vote.
  • The Fine Gael and Labour parliamentary party meetings take place in Leinster House.

Inside Leinster House 

Rumours that Pat Rabbitte could replace George Hook on Newstalk later this year have sparked some mischievous talk around Leinster House. Some have questioned how unbiased he could be, particularly when it would come to grilling members of his own party. Although one observer noted that he was unlikely to give Joan Burton a soft interview, given their previous.

What the others are saying 

  • The Irish Times says the Dáil and Seanad may be relocated as Leinster House undergoes an extensive revamp in 2017. 
  • The same paper says that four former ministers, named by Mary Lou McDonald in the Dáil as having Ansbacher accounts, have complained to Oireachtas authorities. 
  • The Irish Independent says that a special meeting of coalition TDs will take place tomorrow to discuss proposals to reduce the bankruptcy period from three years to one. 

In case you missed it 

On the Twitter machine 

Eh, it’s Shefflin… 

And here’s a billy bonus for you, Enda Kenny’s first Vine…

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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