An Oireachtas committee has heard that the shortfall in funding for Irish Water as a result of the suspension of water charges in 2016 is about €181m, though that is off-set by other factors.

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney told the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government that not having to pay the water conservation grant would save €110m, and there was already a capital loan of €58m factored into the budget.

Mr Coveney said that left a shortfall of €13m which would need to be found in savings.

He also warned that if the Oireachtas decides to do away with water charges, it would still need to deliver on the capital programme, saying: "The choices you make have big consequences. No matter what way you cut it, we have to invest in water services".

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin, meanwhile, has reiterated his party’s stance in favour of water charges.

Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships he said a lot of urban dwellers do not understand that 40% of the population provide their own water through wells and group water schemes.

He said there should be a charge above a free threshold after the normal requirements of families are met.