The next Dail will kill water charges, right? Not as simple as it looks.

If recent polls are to be believed, and they certainly should be taken as indicative, the next Dail will have a possible majority of populist TDs. Whilst they probably won’t want to agree on anything unpopular like passing a budget, it’s not unreasonable to assume that a majority could be found to abolish water charges relatively quickly.


If you read through our lovely constitution, you’ll discover that even a majority of Dail Eireann may not have the power to do so.

I refer learned colleagues to article 18: “Dáil Éireann shall not pass any vote or resolution, and no law shall be enacted, for the appropriation of revenue or other public moneys unless the purpose of the appropriation shall have been recommended to Dáil Éireann by a message from the Government signed by the Taoiseach.

Sure that’s grand, says you. Sure Enda will be long gone anyway. Except he (or his successor) may not be, because until the Dail assembles a majority to elect a new Taoiseach, the sitting Taoiseach stays in office as acting Taoiseach, and, thanks to Dev, has a de facto veto over spending bills despite not having a majority.

On the other hand, having gotten hammered in the general election, do we really think Fine Gael will want to keep defending a policy for which, though right, has modest public support? Probably not.

But it does raise an interesting point: Enda can’t be voted out. A replacement, with the support quite possibly of both Shane Ross and Richard Boyd Barrett, has to be voted in, with a majority. That’ll be fun.

A harmless inoffensive new John A. Costello who seems to agree with everybody whilst keeping his own opinions to himself. Now, I know this fella from Drumcondra…

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