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Water charges deal could pave way for minority government

Richard Bruton
Image caption Fine Gael's Richard Bruton says water charges would be suspended under the deal

Ireland's two biggest parties may be closing in on an agreement allowing the formation of a minority government.

Water charges have been one of the main sticking points to reaching agreement.

Richard Bruton of Fine Gael told RTE there would be a suspension of water charges as part of the proposed deal.

He said people who had already paid their bills would have to be reimbursed if a decision were taken to abolish water charges.

Negotiators from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are to meet later to discuss the proposals, which could result in a Fine Gael-led minority government.

The deal would see an independent commission to consider the overall funding model for water supply and conservation matters.

Image caption Protesters took part in a widespread campaign against water charges prior to the election

Its recommendations would be put to a parliamentary committee, which would take its own proposals to the Dáil to vote on.

Water charges would be suspended for nine months to allow for this process.

Mr Bruton said Fine Gael did not win the election so it could not impose its policy on the Dáil.

Following the election, more than two months ago, Fine Gael had 50 seats, Fianna Fáil 44, Sinn Féin 23 and the Labour Party got seven.

But no party was able to form a majority government and TDs have so far failed to elect a taoiseach.

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