Decision on water charges unlikely next week, says Labour
Gilmore plays down suggestions Labour willing to pull out of Government over water
Labour has raised issues over the fact that only 25 per cent of homes will be metered by the end of 2014 this year
The Government is unlikely to reach a decision on household water charges at next week’s Cabinet meeting, according to senior sources in the Labour Party.
Both Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan have said householders would learn the level of charges next Wednesday following the first Cabinet meeting after the Easter break. However yesterday Labour sources said this was not likely to happen, and it would take at least another week if not more to resolve the outstanding differences between the Coalition parties over the issues.
They pointed to the comments by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore this week in which he indicated he would not be bound by a timetable set out by Fine Gael. The sources, who spoke on the basis of anonymity, also disclosed Cabinet discussions on the matter had been fraught and at one stage had put a question mark over the long-term stability of the Government. According to the sources, the Taoiseach had indicated he might call a Cabinet vote on the issue. The sources said the Tánaiste said the consequences of holding a vote would be very serious.
Mr Gilmore yesterday downplayed suggestions Labour was willing to pull out of Government over this issue, saying it was the subject of ongoing discussion but was one that would be resolved within Government.
Fine Gael Ministers w ant to announce the charge, believed to average €240 per household, in advance of the local and European elections. However, Labour has raised issues over the fact that only 25 per cent of homes will be metered by the end of this year and have also queried if the water allowance for homes is generous enough. They have also sought additional reliefs for those who will have difficulty meeting the new charge.
Labour Minister Pat Rabbitte said he believed agreement would be reached before the local elections.