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Dublin: 10°C Monday 20 September 2021

Will the Seanad reject water charges?

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

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Everyone’s talking about

There’s a real possibility the Seanad will reject the Water Services Bill.

Anti Water Charges Campaigns Protests An anti-water charge protester. Source: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

The Bill was passed by 81 votes to 58 in the Dáil last night. The Government guillotined the legislation after more than 40 hours of debate in recent weeks.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly agreed to change the wording of a section of the Bill that states the Government ”may” put a plebiscite to the people on the public ownership of Irish Water. This line will now read ‘shall’ instead of ‘may’, at the suggestion of Independent TD Denis Naughton.

Senators are set to debate the Bill today and tomorrow. We spoke to several Independent senators earlier this week, and many of them said they had serious reservations about the legislation.

They are expected to propose amendments to the Bill, meaning the Dáil will have to delay its Christmas holidays and sit next Tuesday (23 December).

The agenda

  • 9.30am: Canadian civil servant Rob Wright will appear before the Banking Inquiry to discuss this report into the crisis. (Room 3)
  • 9.30am: The Health Committee will hear about the dangers to patients posed by unregistered cosmetic surgeons (Room 2).
  • 9.30am: Agriculture and Defence Minister Simon Coveney will be answering questions related to his portfolio (Dáil).
  • 10am: Representatives from NAMA will attend a Public Accounts Committee hearing (Room 1).
  • 10am: Cross-party talks in Northern Ireland are set to resume today, with a deal on welfare reform and other issues now looking increasingly unlikely before Christmas.
  • Noon: Tánaiste Joan Burton will be answering Leaders’ Questions (Dáil).
  • Noon: The Seanad will debate the Water Services Bill 2014. There’s a real possibility the legislation won’t be passed in the upper house.
  • 3pm: Taoiseach Enda Kenny and European Minister Dara Murphy will attend a European Council meeting in Brussels. The delegation is expected to discuss investment in EU member states and Ukrainian-Russian relations.
  • Emergency Legislation to deal with a loophole in the penalty points system will also be discussed in the Dáil today.

Inside Leinster House… 

The banking inquiry’s public hearings kicked off yesterday, with Finnish economist Peter Nyberg (the man behind this report into the banking collapse) being the first to take the hot seat. Some Committee members were frustrated that Nyberg couldn’t name names while being interviewed, but there was a general sense of satisfaction that the public aspect of the inquiry is finally up an running.

One member described yesterday as “a practice run”. The inquiry has to complete its work by November 2015. Chair Ciarán Lynch said the committee knows “the clock is ticking” but is up for the challenge.

What the others are saying

  • The Irish Examiner is reporting on the fact the Government has decided to hold a plebiscite, rather than a Referendum, on the potential privatisation of Irish Water.
  • Also on the issue of water, the Irish Times reports that it will take months for Irish Water to delete all of the PPS numbers it has received to date.

In case you missed it

  • Mario Draghi confirmed that the European Central Bank won’t be sending a representative to appear before the Banking Inquiry. Enda Kenny said he’d ask him to reconsider
  • Finnish economist Peter Nyberg did appear, however, telling the committee ignorance rather than negligence caused the banking crash.
  • Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has denied mass surveillance is being carried out by a British spy agency in Ireland.
  • TD John Lyons stopped by for an interview. He told us the infamous Tesco-style ad Labour ran ahead of the 2011 General Election has ‘haunted’ the party.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

  • Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes criticised what he called the ‘attacking Johnny Foreigner’ attitude of parties such as Sinn Féin and UKIP. 
  • Leo Varadkar reignited the abortion debate by saying Irish laws are too restrictive, while Enda Kenny said the Health Minister was speaking “in a personal capacity”. His comments came just before it emerged a clinically dead woman is being kept alive on life support because she’s pregnant and the baby is still alive.
  • Meanwhile, Socialist TD Ruth Coppinger said she has helped dozens of women to take abortion pills.

On the tweet machine

Johnny Fallon seemingly took aim at Leo Varadkar.

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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