Heated exchanges between McDonald and Burton on water

Tánaiste rejects SF deputy leader’s criticism of Government policy

Mary Lou McDonald said the Tánaiste was a Fine Gael mouthpiece.

Mary Lou McDonald said the Tánaiste was a Fine Gael mouthpiece.


Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald accused the Tánaiste of having “morphed into a Fine Gael mouthpiece” during heated exchanges on the domestic water charges.

Joan Burton replied: “At least I am not the mouthpiece of Deputy Gerry Adams.”

Ms McDonald said Labour, led by Ms Burton, had come into office on a platform of opposition to water charges at a time when the public had suffered from cutbacks.

“The subvention for Irish Water on the State balance sheet in 2015 is €810 million,” Ms McDonald added. “Fewer than 50 per cent of households have paid up and if the Tánaiste thinks that is going to improve she is wrong, as it is not going to happen.”

She said the Tánaiste had delivered a homily in which she said the charges were only €3 a week. However, that did not add up for people who had to run their households, she added.

“She is persisting with this even though she knows the damage it will do to individuals and families,” Ms McDonald added.

Room for spending

“Given where the country has come from, the improvements in both last year’s and next year’s budget offer us an opportunity to assist everybody in this country,” she added.

“More important, it will help us to get more people back to work because the key to economic recovery is providing work, either in jobs or in self-employment.”

Ms Burton said there were some 4,000 people involved in working directly or indirectly in the area of water services.

“Sinn Féin’s proposal for water services is to throw those people out of a job and to bankrupt the provision of proper water services in this country,” she added.

She said the important thing in the budget would be to see a shift in favour of people at work or in self-employment, with low or middle incomes, and use it for economic growth.