Gerry Adams tells Dáil his ‘teddy bears are virgins’ in bizarre water debate

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin exchange insults during debate on motion to abolish the levy

The Dáil debate on water charges heard bizarre exchanges between Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil as they traded insults over their stances on the levy.

The debate was on the Sinn Féin private member’s motion calling for water charges to be abolished and for water services to be funded through “progressive taxation”.

During the debate, Sinn Féin’s health spokeswoman Louise O’Reilly said Fianna Fáil had taken “more positions than the Kama Sutra” on the issue of water charges.

Party leader Gerry Adams said he regretted not coming up with the Kama Sutra line, before adding that "my teddy bears are virgins", in reference to his frequent mention of bears on Twitter.


Fianna Fáil environment spokesman Barry Cowen said that if they were talking about Kama Sutra and U-turns, "maybe you should be talking about Houdini and contortionists in respect of [Sinn Féin's] own position" on the issue.

Labour TD Jan O'Sullivan then expressed her frustration with the debate, which she described as a total waste of time.

It was a repeat of the same debate in May, with the same predictable position taken by everyone, she said.

“Everybody is playing the same game here,’’ Ms O’Sullivan said.

She said that whether the debate was about Kama Sutra or Houdini, "it has . . . the absurdity of a Samuel Beckett play".

Ms O’Sullivan said her party had lost a lot of seats in the recent general election, but they still held the same view on water charges.

She said Labour believes “there should be a reasonable water allowance for every household”, with extra allowances for families with members who have disability issues. After that, everyone should pay for the extra water they use.

Meanwhile, Minister for Housing Simon Coveney warned that the State and its people "have a fundamental choice to make".

He said he did not want to pre-empt the recommendations of the expert commission on water services, which was established to seek a way forward on this issue.

However, he said: “I do want to reiterate my belief in the user pays principle.”

He said those who used water services and infrastructure should make a direct contribution to the cost of those services.

‘Waste of money’

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said the expert commission was an incredible waste of time and money.

He said that all the political parties had a stated position and they should stop pretending there was a need for further debate.

“Let us put an end to the circus, let us grasp the nettle and scrap this unjust tax for good,’’ Mr Ó Broin said.

Mr Cowen said it was time Sinn Féin came out from under its rock.

“It was under a rock you went when a government needed to be formed and when real decisions had to be taken,’’ he said.

He said Sinn Féin could play its games, and have its time in the sun, provide it stunt and flatter to deceive.

“I would expect nothing less,’’ he said.

AAA-PBP TD Paul Murphy was reprimanded by Fianna Fáil TD Declan Breathnach, who was chairing proceedings, when he referred to the "vindictive prosecution of a 17-year-old man over the protest in Jobstown two years ago''.

Mr Breathnach said Mr Murphy was going beyond the bounds of the motion.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times