Fianna Fáil has published legal advice it received on whether Ireland can ban water charges in a way that is compatible with European Union laws.

The party is in favour of abolishing all charges and believes the issue of excessive usage can be dealt with by existing legislation that provides for fines and imprisonment.

Fianna Fáil received advice from barristers Darren Lehane and Conleth Bradley in relation to Ireland's EU obligations on water charges.

The 33-page document states that in their opinion it is open to Ireland to ban or suspend domestic water charges.

It states that the European Union's water framework directive does not seek to achieve complete harmonisation of the rules of member states regarding water.

It also states there is no specific requirement in the directive for cost recovery to rely on individual consumption.

The lawyers also advise that the absence of pricing for water service activities will not necessarily jeopardise the directive's objectives.

The advice says that member states have wide discretion in the area and that Ireland can avail of the "established practice" exemption in the directive.

They say that it is for Ireland to determine what "established practice" is and add it was an established practice not to have domestic water charges when the water directive was adopted.

The European Commission wrote to the independent commission looking at water funding in November 2016.

In its letter, the commission stated "Ireland adopted its river basin management plans in July 2010, making a clear commitment to set up water charges to comply with the provision on water pricing in Article 9(1) of the water framework directive.

"Ireland subsequently applied water charges. The directive does not allow member states to revert to any previous practice not entailing the recovery of costs and the application of the polluter pays principle."