Adams describes water charges situation as ‘comedy of errors’

Pádraig Ó Céidigh appointment ‘beyond remit’ of Simon Coveney, Sinn Féin says

Independent Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh: described by Taoiseach Enda Kenny as “an outstanding person”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Independent Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh: described by Taoiseach Enda Kenny as “an outstanding person”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Sinn Féin has accused Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney of stepping “entirely beyond his remit” in appointing Independent Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh as chair of a new committee on water charges.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams described the situation as a “comedy of errors” and an “ongoing farce”.

He raised the issue during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil, in the wake of the announcement by Mr Coveney of Mr Ó Céidigh as chair of the committee which will consider the report of the expert commission on water charges. The commission is due to issue its report at the end of November.

Fine Gael agreed the appointment of Mr Ó Céidigh in talks with Fianna Fáil, and Mr Adams said “the Minister has no authority to appoint the chairperson of an Oireachtas committee as such appointments are a matter for the Dáil. To intervene as the Minister did and to seek to appoint a chair is a serious departure from normal Oireachtas procedure.”

Mr Adams called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to have the chair of the committee decided by its 20 members when it was established without interference from the Minister.

‘Marching feet’

However, Mr Kenny said: “My, my, how your memory has faded.” The Taoiseach recalled Mr Adams saying he would pay his water charges and Sinn Féin saying it would make the necessary contributions.

“Then when it heard the sound of marching feet out in Tallaght, it decided to reverse engines,” Mr Kenny said.

He said Mr Adams could not say Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil were out of line. Mr Kenny said his party had a very clear view on water charges all along.

Fine Gael’s position had always been that people should pay for water but they had sat down with Fianna Fáil to ensure the Government could do its work, Mr Kenny said.

Fine Gael had a confidence-and-supply arrangement with Fianna Fáil. “It is obviously necessary to have somebody who is competent, objective and capable of chairing deliberations on a complex issue such as this as chairman of an Oireachtas committee,” he said.

Mr Kenny described Mr Ó Céidigh as “an outstanding person, a businessman who is used to seeing clearly through complex issues and making decisions. I am sure he will fulfil his remit in this regards in a very clear, objective and fulfilling way.”

Mr Adams said the agreement was “all about getting Fianna Fáil off the hook on this issue and getting you back into power”.