The suggestion of a referendum on water has not been ruled out according to Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Alex White.

However, Mr White said that decision would require "more work".

Speaking on RTÉ's The Week In Politics, he also said a report in today's Sunday Times, suggesting that water charges would cost most households €210 a year, was "going in the right direction".

He also questioned the continued existence of the Economic Management Council.

The EMC is a Cabinet sub-group chaired by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the other members are Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.

Mr White, who has been involved in recent EMC meetings, said while the discussion is "clear-headed" he said there is Cabinet governance in the country.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Irish Water has spent almost €8m on external service providers so far this year as part of the overall establishment costs approved by the regulator for this purpose.

A statement from the company said the costs are part of the €80m set aside to pay external providers up to mid-2015.

The statement said figures published in today's Mail on Sunday newspaper were part of that known establishment cost. 

A submission to the Joint Oireachtas committee last January revealed companies in receipt of the largest share of the costs included  IBM (€44.8m), Accenture (€17.2m), Earnst and Young (€4.6m) and KPMG (€2.2m).

These companies have been contracted by Irish Water to put in place asset management and customers service systems.

They continue to be in receipt of most of the money being paid to external providers this year.