Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton has denied that the Government lied to the electorate before the Local Elections about the amount people would pay for water.

Asked by reporters this morning if the Government lied to the electorate, Mr Bruton said "absolutely not".

He said the average charge of €238 announced by the Commission for Energy Regulation was absolutely within what the Government had indicated of €240.

Children would go free, older people would have a €100 free charge, and there would be a free allowance for each household, he said.

The minister said the system would be fair to all.

Mr Bruton said people with medical conditions would have their bills capped.

However, he said, after that people would have to economise on their usage.

The minister added that the country produces water up to Ballygowan standards.

Yesterday, Fianna Fáil's Barry Cowen accused the Government of doing a "flip-flop" in relation to water charges.

He said the real cost will not be known until the bill comes in the door.

Sinn Féin's Brian Stanley said there would be no cheap water or small bills from the CER's announcement.