Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said water charges will not be introduced in January next year.

In an interview with RTÉ News, Mr Gilmore said it had always been the position that the introduction of water charges was dependant on the introduction of metering.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, who is on a trade mission to Turkey, said it was now clear that sufficient metering would not have been carried out by next January for water charges to come into effect.

Mr Gilmore said the eventual introduction of the charge “will really depend on what progress is made on the installation of meters and I expect that to take some time".

Four days ago, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said that the charges would come into effect on 1 January next year.

Mr Hogan said the date for the introduction of the charges had been set by the Troika and it was not up to the Government to change it.

Deputy leader of Sinn Féin, Mary Lou McDonald, said the water charges issue should be shelved, but failing that the Government has to make its agenda clear.

Minister for Finance Minister Michael Noonan said it was the Government's intention to introduce water charges by January 2014, but the progress of water metering across the country is slower than anticipated.

Mr Noonan was speaking at the Dell plant in Limerick in advance of an ECOFIN meeting.

Mr Noonan said both he and Minster for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin are discussing with the Troika whether water charges will be introduced by the end of 2014, or early 2015 and that date depends on the progress of those discussions.

He said there was no decision yet about whether a flat rate charge will be introduced in advance of that, as the motivation in agreeing to the principal of paying for water is that the charge should be based on usage.

But he said a decision on a date for the introduction of water charges will be agreed with the Troika by summer.