The announcement of water charges of around E240 per family by Environment Minister, Phil Hogan last week really has hit Fine Gael candidates on the doorstep. They have received a deluge of criticism from voters who see this latest charge, agreed by the last FF led government and the Troika as the straw to break the camel’s back.
However, the question has to be asked, what pressure was brought to bear on FG to go out and commit Hara-Kiri two weeks before a local and European election.
Insider heard that Labour ministers were all set to agree the charges three months ago but got cold feet and then the issue was forced on the government when Taoiseach Enda Kenny told Fianna Fail leader, Michael Martin in the Dail that the charges would be announced before the local elections and ever a man of his word, Mr Kenny got Minister Hogan to stand up, sorry sit down at a press conference, drinking a glass of water and smiling to break the bad news
It will provide Sinn Fein with the fillip they sought. The government has given them the ammunition they needed to copperfasten their place in the opinion polls. Kathleen Funchion has a new pep in her step and seems to be reborn, looking fresh and ready for the fray.
However the big question following the water charges announcement is this; Will Big Phil go to Europe? No one seems to know. His cavalier attitude and the way he walked out into the firing; line on the water charges would lead you to believe he in the way to Europe, either is this country’s next EU Commissioner or as a judge in the EU court of auditors based in London. On the other hand he has just announced E27 million in funding for the city and county for water schemes and waste water schemes.
Insider thinks that if, as predicted, Labour have a bad election, either Pat Rabbitte or even Eamon Gilmore will fly off to Europe,leaving the way open for Joan Bruton, who has strong Graignamanagh connections with Deputy Ann Phelan. If Joan Burton is elected Ann Phelan will get a junior ministry.