Coalition parties work on water deal
Labour negotiators broadly supportive of new compromise proposal from Hogan
Phil Hogan: input from the last Cabinet meeting has informed the revised proposal he plans to bring to Cabinet tomorrow. Photograph: Alan Betson
The Government is pushing for an early settlement of the row on water charges in the hope of putting the argument behind it as campaigning intensifies ahead of the European and local elections.
After serious divisions between Fine Gael and Labour Ministers before Easter, the two parties were said last night to be working to strike an accord when the Cabinet returns to the matter at its meeting tomorrow.
The push for a deal follows exchanges between Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore when the Cabinet last tackled the question a fortnight ago.
Labour negotiators were said last night to be broadly supportive of a new compromise proposal from Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, which includes reliefs for pensioners and people on disability allowances.
“We are talking about affordability, about how you help those who are vulnerable and we understand the difficulties that many people have,” Mr Kenny said yesterday at a Fine Gael election event.
“There are people with particular medical circumstances who need high volumes of water beyond normal generous allowances so the Government will make a decision as soon as we can in those regards.
“Clearly, obviously, there are vulnerable sectors out there: people living on their own, elderly people, people with families.We’ve already, on the basis of being able to give a generous free allowance, we’re now putting in place the arrangements so that we can deal in the best way that we can with vulnerable elements of our society so that this is fair, as affordable, in the interests of building an infrastructure for the next 50 years.”
Mr Hogan said input from the last Cabinet meeting has informed the revised proposal he plans to bring to Cabinet tomorrow.