A senior Fianna Fáil politician has said that a final deal with Fine Gael on Irish Water will allow for a government to be put in place that will have some degree of stability.

Limerick TD Willie O'Dea said the draft agreement, which includes a temporary suspension of water charges, would take the water issue off the agenda and allow for a Fine Gael-led minority government to be formed. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s News At One, he described the proposals as a good compromise, adding that it is not a question of victory for his party. 

The first strand of the document is to retain Irish Water but an external advisory board will be set up to improve its transparency, accountability and also how it works.

Under the plan, the board would report to the Oireachtas.

On water charges, it is suggested that an independent commission would look at the overall funding model and conservation matters.

Its recommendations would then be referred to an Oireachtas committee but it would not be bound by the commission's proposals.

In turn the committee could make its own proposals which the Dáil would then vote on.

As the commission and committee examine the issue, it is proposed that water charges would be suspended for nine months though there is the possibility of this being extended.

The technical details still have to be finalised and the proposal has not yet been formally agreed.

Mr O'Dea said the electorate had feared that Irish Water would be sold to a private company, but the draft agreement ensures it will be kept in public hands.

It is understood a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party was not marked by any dissent over the proposed deal on Irish Water.

Earlier, some TDs had criticised aspects of the proposal but one backbencher told RTÉ News the meeting had been a calm one. 

Fianna Fáil TDs were also meeting this evening. 

Fine Gael to 'defend to the hilt' people who paid charges

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said Fine Gael will "defend to the hilt people" who have paid water charges.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said there could be no question of people being left at a loss if a decision were taken in the future to abolish water charges.

If water charges are to be scrapped, then people who have already paid their bills will have to get their money back, he said.

In the event that charges continue in the future, he said that those who were in default will have their outstanding bills pursued.

Mr Bruton said Fine Gael did not win the election so it cannot impose its policy on the Dáil.

He said the bigger picture was that a government needed to be formed to deal with pressing issues and it could not be a government that will fall at the first hurdle.

Great progress has been made in talks, he said, but added that a lot of work remains to be done and it still has to be put to independents.

Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher said he could not put a time frame on how long charges will be suspended for.

He added that establishing a commission would finally get Irish Water and the "consistent running sore in Irish politics" back into the parliamentary process where there can be accountability in the Dáil.

Those who paid the charges, he said, should get their money back if they are scrapped.

In the Dáil chamber, all parties and independents got an opportunity to discuss water charges as a debate on the issue took place this afternoon.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the Fianna Fáil manifesto called for the abolition of water charges and said it should be true to this.

He said the Dáil should be allowed vote on this and if everyone was true to their mandates, a vote on Irish Water would be won.

Responding to calls for a vote on Irish Water, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that motions being voted on will have no impact on legislation.

He said there were a lot of discussions between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael on the parameters of an agreement to allow a government to be formed. He said this would have to have the consultation of independents.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said his party sought a debate on Irish Water. He said motions on their own would not prevent water charges.