Former Labour Court chair to lead water commission

Simon Coveney to appoint Kevin Duffy as chairman after Joe O’Toole’s resignation

Former Labour Court chairman Kevin Duffy is to lead the expert commission examining the future of water charges in the State.

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney is to appoint Mr Duffy to replace Joe O'Toole, who was forced to resign this week after a series of controversial interviews.

Mr O’Toole, a former senator, said he believed water must be paid for and that he supported the polluter pays principle. He blamed Fianna Fáil for his resignation, insisting he had retained the support of Mr Coveney despite his comments.

“That was until Minister Coveney informed me that the main Opposition party would not co-operate with Government on this and related issues for as long as I remained in the chair,” he said.


Mr Duffy, who is a former assistant general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, has been chosen to replace him. It is understood Mr Coveney informed Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil of the decision on Thursday.

The seven member commission is examining the future of water charges and has five months to report back to an Oireachtas committee which will then vote on its recommendations.

Mr Coveney is to travel to Brussels on Friday to meet environment commissioner Karmenu Vella to explain the decision to suspend water charges for nine months.

The Minister and Mr Vella have been in contact but Mr Coveney is expected to stress the rationale behind the agreement reached with Fianna Fáil which underpinned the formation of a minority government.

The meeting follows an instruction issued by the European Commission that Ireland cannot revert to the position of not paying for water.