Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney has said Fine Gael believes the way to deal with people who waste water is to send them a bill and not fine them or prosecute them in court.

Speaking in Athlone, Mr Coveney said he would not be in favour of criminalising people who use too much water and he hoped that Fianna Fáil would settle with Fine Gael in the end on the proposal.

Mr Coveney denied the matter was being continuously being kicked down the road for political expedience reasons and said he was confident it would be resolved in a few weeks.

Speaking earlier on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said he hoped the Oireachtas water committee could come to a consensus on the issue.

No one, he said, was arguing that those who wilfully wasted water should not be penalised.

However, he added, there were differences of opinion over the way in which it should be done.