Taoiseach Enda Kenny has not ruled out cutting off the water supply to householders who do not pay their water charges.

Responding to Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald, Mr Kenny said electricity and phone services are cut off if people do not pay.

Ms McDonald said it was a disgrace that the Taoiseach was considering such an outcome as water was essential for any decent quality of living.

The Taoiseach said there would be a free allocation to households and added that waivers would be given to households who cannot afford to pay.

Earlier, Mr Kenny said there will be no job losses as a result of the introduction of water metering.

He was responding to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who said the establishment of such a utility in Northern Ireland had resulted in 800 job losses in local authorities.

Mr Martin said the equivalent would be 1,300 job losses here.

Mr Kenny said 2,000 jobs would be created with the establishment of Irish Water.

He said there would be no privatisation of the facility.

On the price of the water charges, Mr Kenny said it would be a matter for the regulator.

He said nobody could predict what the cost of electricity would be and said it was "daft" to ask how much water charges will be, when the details have not yet been worked out.

Speaking in Baldoyle later, Mr Kenny said "careful and prudent" use of water should mean that no-one would have their water supply switched off.

He said all public utilities have a regime in place with people who have difficulties.

Mr Kenny said where water is involved, the Government "will make the decision as to the amount of water to be allocated free before any charge would apply".

Minister calls for improved water infrastructure

Minister of State for Natural Resources Fergus O'Dowd has said the country needs to improve its infrastructure for water.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr O'Dowd said it was generally agreed that the standing charge would be €40 for 20 years, amounting in total to €800.

Mr O'Dowd said 20% of this figure, €160, would pay for the water meters and the rest of the payment would go towards the cost of installation, plumbing and restoration of footpaths.

Independent TD for Wicklow and East Carlow Stephen Donnelly questioned the introduction, at this time, of a system of water charge payments, saying it was a “stupid” way to spend money.