Cabinet split over water charge details

The Cabinet is split over water charges, which are set to dominate the agenda when Ministers meet this morning.

Representatives of Fine Gael and Labour met last night to try to hammer out a new set of proposals, but neither the Taoiseach or Tánaiste are committing to a timeframe to resolve the matter.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said Labour has “substantive differences” with Fine Gael over the final cost and the standing charge, as well as the slow pace of water meter installations.

His party had sought to ensure that the elderly or those with medical conditions would have some allowances, and the Taoiseach yesterday said the Government will focus on making it as fair and affordable as possible in those cases.

Advisors from Labour and Fine Gael met last night to try to address those issues, but neither side is committing to a strict timetable for a final figure.

Sources in both parties said they feel the relationship coalition could be damaged if the water charges deadlock isn’t brought to a swift conclusion.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said he doesn't expect discussions to be derailed by tensions between Labour and Fine Gael.

Government sources said "good progress" has been made in discussions with the chances of a deal "greatly improved" over the past 48 hours.

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