It would be a “historic mistake” to walk away from Irish Water, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said, hours after Fine Gael minister Simon Coveney revealed the party is open to discussing the future of the company.
Get Flash Player
Not available from your location‘Historic mistake’ to abolish Irish Water – Taoiseach
Story by UTV Ireland Staff, Dublin
Comments made by Agriculture and Defence Minister Simon Coveney – who was recently re-elected in Cork South Central – suggest the future of controversial utility company Irish Water is not as assured as previously stated.
Mr Coveney was speaking to RTÉ Prime Time about the formation of the next government, when he said Fine Gael would “certainly be willing to talk about water.”
Mr Coveney said the party is “talking about trying to reflect what people want in Ireland.”
“Some people agree with water charges, other people don’t.”
However, speaking for the first since Coveney’s appearance on Prime Time, Taoiseach Enda Kenny held firm on his commitment to a water charge.
“I want to say in respect of Irish Water that I think it would be a seriously costly and seriously historic mistake to move away from having a single national utility that will provide clean water for the country and that will provide services for waste water,” he told reporters.
Fianna Fáil are deemed a potential coalition partner for Fine Gael. However, the existence of current water management structures could prove to be a major sticking point.
It is estimated that any abolition of Irish Water would cost around €7 billion.
Opposition parties say the General Election results represent a lack of support for the government water bill.
Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Ruth Coppinger said the “writing is on the wall” for the utility charge.
“How joyous to see FF and FG scurrying around with their tail between their legs, having to admit abolition of water charges is a priority for any government formation,” she posted on Facebook.
“What a great vindication of those of us who called for a boycott.”
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the death knell for domestic water charges has been sounded.
“Over 400,000 people voted for candidates aligned to the Right2Change platform to end water charges.