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Gerry Adams Screengrab/Oireachtas TV
Leaders' Questions

The Cabinet didn't discuss water charges today, apparently

The Taoiseach said the government had “a very long agenda” and water charges simply didn’t come up.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has claimed that the Cabinet did not discuss water charges at their meeting this morning due to “a very long agenda”.

“We didn’t discuss it,” Kenny said during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon.

Despite this, he added that “the matter will be brought to a speedy conclusion”.

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams claimed that Labour were ”clearly on board” with an average water charge of €240 when the suggested cost was announced a few weeks ago but said the party “panicked” and changed their stance due to public anger.

There you have it – Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee – your government at odds with each other over what was a Fianna Fáil policy … Citizens are asking ‘What is the point of the Labour party in government?’

When Adams asked if VAT would be charged on top of the fixed fee, Kenny said no.

He accused Sinn Féin of perpetrating “a gross falsehood” by telling people who owned private wells that they would have to pay charges.

Adams questioned the timing of today’s announcement that a banking inquiry would be established next week, claiming it was to detract attention from the increasingly contentious issue of water charges.

‘A fiasco’

Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin described the government’s handling of the situation as “a fiasco”.

Martin said the coalition “railroaded” legislation on Irish Water before Christmas and did not allow for adequate discussion on the issue.

“There was no debate and about €180 million spent on consultants,” he stated.

Kenny said the establishment of Irish Water was necessary to fix the “inferior infrastructure” currently in place.

“We cannot continue to portray Ireland to be up to standard in terms of water delivery,” he added.

He said the final cost of water charges would be determined “very quickly in the interests of everybody”.

The debate became quite heated – at one point the Ceann Comhairle had to remind the chamber “this is Leaders’ Questions, this is not play-acting time”.

Read: 5 key issues facing the banking inquiry before it even starts

Read: ‘Reasonably quickly’: Kenny and Gilmore still can’t say when they’ll decide on water charges

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