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Water News 2: Do not ask a question you may not like the answer to… April 6, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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All manner of alarums and fears voiced in the IT this morning, right up to and including an election if FG doesn’t agree with the Oireachtas Committee on water charges recommendations mentioned last night.

Fine Gael may breach the confidence and supply arrangement and risk a general election by refusing to implement the measures.

And:

Fine Gael insists the proposals may breach European law and expose the taxpayer to thousands of euro in fines.
Mr Coveney has said he will not introduce legislation which could be incompatible with the EU Water Framework Directive.

What’s curious though is that according to the IT report:

The committee meeting on descended into chaos on Wednesday as Fine Gael sought fresh legal advice from a senior counsel on the report’s recommendations.

And the outcome of that advice? That the report fulfilled EU legislation in the area.

At which point, according to the report, having asked for the advice FG decided not to accept the advice they themselves had called for.

I think the politics of that are interesting. Perhaps FG believe that they will appear responsible to a broader electorate but I wonder – the sheer weight of the Committee voting in the opposite way has a degree of democratic legitimacy that will be hard to push back against. Not accepting the advice is a further problem – it looks obtuse. And then there’s a further point. Water charges are hugely unpopular in the first place.

Can this go to an election, though? Would FG be willing to push it to that extent? And where does this impact on the FG leadership race?

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1. Paddy Healy - April 6, 2017

What is not reported by the Newspapers is that the legal advice rejected by Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens came from the independent but official Oireachtas Legal Service to members of the Oireachtas
The recommendations now supported by the majority of the Oireachtas Committee have been cleared as not in breach of EU Law by 3 sets of legal advice from the Oireachtas Legal Service.
FG is repeatedly citing advice from Attorney General, and Labour stalwart, Maura Whelan.
Seamus Healy TD is one of 5 Right2Water deputies on the Oireachtas Committee

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2. Alibaba - April 6, 2017

Coveney told the Irish Examiner:

“The agreement [last week on water] was fundamentally undermined by Fianna Fáil. This isn’t water charges by the front door or by the back door. The legal advice is that Ireland has no derogation [exemption from charges].”

Somebody is lying.

‘Instead he said he would send the recommendation to the attorney general and would likely have to “tweak” them’ … to ensure “they comply with the water framework directive”’.

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/simon-coveney-to-defy-advice-on-water-charges-447075.html

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3. Paddy Healy - April 6, 2017

The reality is that both FF and FG changed their positions on key issues since last week. Both are lying!! What is New?

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Alibaba - April 6, 2017

And here’s the thing:

“Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”

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4. Paddy Healy - April 6, 2017

Just to Clarify the Position in Relation to Labour Party And the Greens-
In most votes at the Committee Meeting Labour Jan O’Sullivan and Grace O’Sullivan (Green) voted with Fine Gael to facilitate restoration of water charges over time.

For example there was a vote to clarify normal use by inserting that normal use by inserting 133 litres per Person per Day. Labour and the greens voted with Fine Gael against the clarification. Fine Gael wanted normal use to be 133 litres per HOUSEHOLD per day. This would have brought 25% of households back into water charges!

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5. lcox - April 6, 2017

Phoenix observed reasonably that FG are aware FF have to take a tough line on water if they ever want to make a comeback in Dublin in the face of SF. Conversely “continuity FG” or #RightToPay voters have nowhere to go right of the Blueshirts. Given that a new election would hardly benefit FG, they have little reason to make an election issue out of it.

However Coveney and Varadkar have a very different electorate to compete for in their competition to become the next FG leader, and grandstanding on water charges hurts them not one little bit in this respect. That’s entirely compatible with Enda overruling them on holding an election.

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