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 Header Item Leaders' Questions (Resumed) (Continued)
 Header Item Business of Dáil

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 917 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry] I suggest that 73% non-payment is not far off a tipping point.

  Is the Government seriously going to try to use European Commission threats to save a sinking ship? Is it seriously going to try to use a rigged commission to save a sinking ship? Or, is the Government going to recognise reality and give this hated charge a decent burial?

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae An A+.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris For poetry.

The Tánaiste: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I thought the Deputy was going to break into song during his introduction.

Deputy Paul Murphy: Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy Turn behind you.

The Tánaiste: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald Report Stage of the Water Services (Amendment) Bill is scheduled in the House later this evening. As the Deputy knows, it proposes to suspend domestic water charges from 1 July to 31 March next year. During this period, no Irish Water customers will receive bills for domestic water charges. The Government has charted a way forward. Charges are being suspended for nine months, during which time we will have a discussion on the future funding of domestic public water and wastewater services. The expert commission, under Kevin Duffy, will get on with its work and make recommendations on how we fund domestic water services. The work is commencing and should take approximately five months.

A special Oireachtas committee will examine the findings and recommendations, which will take approximately three months. The Oireachtas will consider it and vote on the recommendations. The process has been laid out and agreed, and the Government intends to follow it. In the discussions here, we have seen the outline and detail of the path forward. We believe it is the right route in order to discuss how the infrastructure, which is so necessary, will be funded. This key discussion must take place and we will continue the discussions in the format I have outlined.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry Does the Tánaiste seriously believe the Irish people will not believe the water commission is rigged? Joe O'Toole let the cat out of the bag. The cat ran across the floor of the Dáil and everybody has seen it. The song the Tánaiste might like the members of the water commission to sing is "Silence is Golden".

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin "Bridge Over Troubled Water".

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry However, although the members of the commission are not talking to the press, the Tánaiste cannot bury their past statements. Xavier Leflaive of the OECD is on the commission. He once said, "Water pricing can be used to signal scarcity and to create incentives for efficient water use in all sectors". At another stage, he said, "It is well acknowledged that metering is the best [system]. It's fair and efficient". Is the Tánaiste prepared to come clean and admit the commission is just a sham?

The Tánaiste: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The commission is an expert body that has been brought together to consider the evidence, receive submissions and examine the legal framework nationally and internationally, which we need to do. The commission has been asked to do this work and make recommendations. It is an expert body. I do not accept what the Deputy said about it. It will examine all the evidence and bring it together, examine potential funding structures and the legal frameworks, which are very important, at European and national level, and make recommendations. The group of experts will, no doubt, consider all the evidence and come up with recommendations. The report of the commission will come before the House, after being to a Dáil committee for further discussion on the way forward. We must have a discussion on the funding of the significant investment needed to deal with the problems which have not been dealt with to date when many local authorities were dealing with it in a very inconsistent way. Already, Irish Water has made improvements to the infrastructure around the country.

Business of Dáil

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Chief Whip has a business proposal to put to us.

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