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Announcement of Oireachtas Water Committee Chair latest move in ‘comedy of errors’ – Adams

22 November, 2016 - by Gerry Adams TD


Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, speaking in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, has said the announcement by Minister Simon Coveney of the appointment of Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh as the chair of the yet to be established Oireachtas Water Committee at the weekend was the latest move in a ‘comedy of errors’ in respect of water charges.

Teachta Adams said:

“After the general election, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil ignored the reality that a majority of TDs were elected to abolish water charges. Instead of the Taoiseach allowing the Dáil to decide the issue, he and Teachta Martin kicked the can down the road.

“In June, Minister Simon Coveney published a draft terms of reference for the so-called Expert Commission on Water Charges. He said he wouldn’t accept any amendments.

“Then, we had the debacle surrounding the appointment of former Senator Joe O’Toole as its chairperson. He went on to say ‘people voted a certain way; Leinster House is not prepared to grasp that particular nettle, so we have to find a solution that will have enough sugar on it to make the medicine go down’.

“Of course, had the Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil leader allowed the Oireachtas to deal with the issue, water charges would be long gone. 

“This weekend, the comedy of errors continued. The Fianna Fáil leader said he did not envisage a return of water charges. Then, Fianna Fáil spokesperson Teachta Barry Cowen said something completely different and refused to rule out a return of charges.

“To top it all, Minister Coveney declared, without any consultation with the Dáil, that Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh would be appointed as the chair of the yet to be established Oireachtas Committee on water. 

“I have nothing against Seanadóir Ó Céidigh, however the issue is that the Minister has no authority to appoint the chairperson of an Oireachtas Committee as such appointments are a matter for the Dáil.

“To intervene, as the Minister did, and seek to appoint a chair, no matter who that person is, is a serious departure from normal Oireachtas procedure.

“The Taoiseach should confirm if his proposed appointment was agreed between him and the Fianna Fáil leader at the meeting they are reported to have held last week, and commit to following the normal procedure for the chair of the Committee to be decided by its own members once established, without interference from the Minister.” 

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