Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney has said that he will not introduce water legislation that contravenes European Union directives and exposes Ireland to large fines.

Half of those on the Oireachtas committee looking at the future funding of water services have indicated that they favour abolishing domestic charges and are opposed to charging for the excessive use of water.

The committee has made no decision on the matter but Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit (AAA-PBP) say there should be no charges.

Mr Coveney this evening accused Fianna Fáil of hardening its position by ruling out charges for excess water use today.

Mr Coveney, who is the minister with responsibility for the issue, said Fine Gael wanted a genuine compromise.

He said the basis for this could be found in a draft circulated by the committee today, insisting the process was not over.

The 20-member Joint Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services met today and will again tomorrow to agree its final recommendations for the future funding of domestic water services.

So far ten members have stated they oppose water charges.

Another eight have however indicated they want charges for excessive use which was recommended by the Independent Commission which looked at the issue last year.

Two TDs on the committee have not stated their views.

Critically, Fianna Fáil members indicated they are opposing any charges for excessive use and TD Willie O'Dea said there is legislation in place which is not being enforced which penalises people who use excessive amounts of water.

He said a district metering system would pick this up as opposed to domestic metering.

Sinn Féin and AAA-PBP say there is no evidence of excessive usage by households.

Labour however says taxpayers should not have to pay for those who use excessive amounts.

The committee has not made a final decision and ultimately the Dáil will vote on it.

Fine Gael TD Jim Daly, a member of the committee, has said that he is opposed to refunds.

He said the law of the land as it applied at the time should be maintained.

However, he said that the reality of new politics is that while Fine Gael and independents are in Government, Fianna Fáil is in power and carries the swaying vote.

Mr Daly said that Fianna Fáil indicated this morning that the party is in favour of returning the money to people who have paid.

He said this is unusual as Fianna Fáil signed up to water charges on the arrival of the Troika into the country seven years ago.

Committee member Paul Murphy of the AAA-PBP said he expects those who paid for water charges to be refunded.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Mr Murphy said the refund is "not a done deal" but there is huge pressure on "establishment parties" to agree to it.

He said it needs to be recognised that it is not possible to pursue non-payers.

He said: "I think those who did pay should get their money back. I think many people were pressured, bullied, forced into paying. They have, of course, to thank all of those who refused to pay for creating a political situation whereby it's very difficult for the establishment parties to go after non-payment."