Simon Coveney said his position on the water charges hasn’t changed amid reports by Fianna Fail to withdraw support for a new president.
The Minister for Housing said he is willing to work with Fianna Fail on the water charge ultimatum but said he will not pass legislation that will expose Ireland to millions of euros worth of fines.
“We will put a piece of legislation together that I hope reflects the main ground of political opinion in relation to how we move on from water, but at the same time it has to be a piece of legislation that is legally sound,” Coveney said.
Fianna Fail has accused Coveney of backtracking on their agreements and said they will not tolerate any attempts to stall new laws on the back of the final report, which will be voted on this afternoon.
FF’s Michael McGrath said at the moment, Fine Gael are withdrawing on their promises and trying to gain a political advantage instead of dealing with the issue at hand.
“If the reason that they put forward for not complying with the agreement is that in some way what is proposed contravenes EU law, then spell out exactly what contravenes EU law in accordance with the Attorney General’s advice – and we’ll try deal with that,” he said.
“But at the moment I think what we have is political positioning by Fine Gael rather than dealing with the substance of it.”
The two parties have been holding continued talks over the proposed report but still disagree over the aspect of what constitutes “excessive” water usage.
According to Fianna Fail, the average person uses 133 litres per day and levies are imposed when they exceed 1.7 times that amount.
Sinn Fein TD Eoin O’Broin said that by allowing for the introduction of water fines, Fianna Fail have broken their pledge to the people while caving in to Simon Coveney’s demands.
“Having marched his troops up the hill, Deputy Barry Cowen has backed down and allowed for universal water charges to be introduced through the back door,” O’Broin said.
“The decision taken today by Fianna Fáil has absolutely nothing to do with complying with EU law and everything to do with Fianna Fáil’s fear of a general election.”