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Martin says water bills must be paid even though suspension of charge is on the way


Fine Gael will continue to work towards striking a deal with Independents today in an attempt to get them to enter a minority government. 

Last night the party released details of the framework arrangement with Fianna Fáil which will see the minority supported until at least the end of 2018, barring unforeseen circumstances.

Under the arrangement water charges would be legally suspended within six weeks of a new Government coming into office, despite the fact that the latest billing cycle is underway.

Other details of the arrangement include Fianna Fáil abstaining on the election of a taoiseach, nomination of ministers; agreeing to facilitate budgets and vote against or abstain in votes of no confidence in the government, ministers or financial measures.

Fine Gael agrees on Fianna Fáil’s right to bring forward policy proposals and bills from its own manifesto and promises to publish all deals with independents and other parties.

The FF-FG document recommends that Irish Water be retained and an external advisory board set up on a statutory basis to look at its operations.

It proposes suspending the water conservation grant and restoring funding to group water schemes based on pre-2015 levels.

Michael Martin said those who will receive their water bills in the coming days should pay their bills and respect the law even though the charges are due to be suspended in the next few months.

“Those who have not paid, have an obligation to pay.

“We said this in our manifesto as far as we are concerned at this particular junction we are saying the obligation has to be on those who have not paid, to pay.”

In relation to homelessness, the arrangement supports an increase in social housing, retaining mortgage interest relief beyond December 2017, increasing rent supplement by 15% and provides for greater protection for mortgage holders and tenants against vulture funds.

With health it proposes maintaining a humane approach to discretionary medical cards, introducing supports to reduce childcare costs and it supports increasing and ring-fencing €15 million in 2017 for a national treatment purchase fund.

As regards crime it proposes increasing garda numbers to 15,000 and giving the policing authority the power to review the boundaries of garda districts.