Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Planning and Local Government Barry Cowen TD has responded to the resignation of Mr Joe O’Toole as Chair of the new commission examining water policy. Deputy Cowen had earlier called on Mr O’Toole to reflect on his position.

He commented, “Fianna Fáil takes no pleasure in Joe’s departure but we believe that he has done the right thing in stepping aside.

“There have been few more contentious issues in politics in recent years than the issue of Irish Water, and the botched water charging regime that it introduced. The political turmoil it created and the verdict passed by the Irish people cannot be ignored.

“For this reason we fought for this Commission in the talks to facilitate a minority Government. We did so because it was clear to us that there is a massive task in building confidence around water policy and the question of how we pay for water as a country. There needs to be an open debate about all the options that are on the table. We are determined that this Commission process is above reproach and is demonstrably fair and impartial in how it does its business.

“The decision of the Chair to pre-empt any examination of the facts and promote his personal view of what should happen next is clearly incompatible with the role he was appointed to.

“We were not consulted on Joe’s appointment, but we did welcome it. He is a man with a strong record of public service. It is Joe’s activities since his appointment that have led to today. Our hope is that the Government will now move quickly to appoint someone who will approach the question with an open mind and will engage on the question of how we pay for water in an independent and impartial way.”