The subject of the water charges has been contested by almost every political party in the country, and now it seems the highly discussed subject is causing inner party disagreements.
The much hated charges which were suspended early this week as part of agreement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to form a minority government was seen as a step in the right direction for Irish politics and the Irish people, but now however a number of Fine Gael TD’s are kicking up a storm by insisting that those who already paid their water charges should not be reimbursed.
The latest disagreement comes after the party agreed a three-budget deal with Fianna Fáil over the weekend in return for Enda Kenny remaining as Taoiseach. Although main figures in the party are willing to reimburse the charges, there is still unrest within as a small number including Regina Doherty believe that charges should not be refunded.
The call for refunds is being led by Labour party TD and acting Environment Minister Alan Kelly who said: “If charges are abolished, people are entitled to a refund.” Mr Kelly’s call is also echoed by acting Arts Minister Heather Humphreys who also said people should be reimbursed if charges are abolished.
However, Ms Doherty strongly disagrees with reimbursing those who have paid, saying: “My mindset is about reintroducing the suspended charges, so my answer to (whether people who paid should be reimbursed) would be no. They are law-abiding citizens who abided by the law, and those who did not will be pursued.”
Ms Doherty added she believed the water charges would be back within 12 to 18 months. Meanwhile Fianna Fáil’s position on refunds has not yet been made clear. Although party negotiator Niall Collins said today: “All I can say is water charges have been suspended and it will be a matter for Dáil Éireann to reinstate water charges if a vote is taken.”