Legislation to bring an end to water charges and to provide for refunds has been passed by the Dáil.

The Water Services Bill 2017 was voted through by 71 votes to 39. The bill will now be sent to the Seanad where it will be debated and voted on.

The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy said because of delays in dealing with the bill in the Dáil it would not be possible to refund water charges to every household before Christmas.

He said he did not believe the bill was a victory for the people, but it was for politicians who wanted to score points on the Government for their own gain.

He said he hoped the legislation would now settle matters for the coming years.

A number of opposition TDs claimed the bill allows for the reintroduction of water charges by the back door.

Solidarity TD Mick Barry said the Government had been forced to recognise reality and abolish water charges.

However, he said the introduction of an "excessive use charge" had the potential to see water charges reintroduced in the future.

"If you decide ever to go down that road we will be ready for you," he said.

His comments were echoed by independent TD Seamus Healy, who said he opposed the bill because it made water a tradable commodity.

Labour's Jan O'Sullivan said she would have liked to have ended the debate with a commitment from the Government that a referendum would be held to keep water services in public ownership.

Fianna Fáil's Barry Cowen described the decision to introduce water charges as "a botched regime" that had been railroaded through the Dáil by Fine Gael and Labour.

He criticised a Sinn Féin amendment, which proposed to change the name of the legislation from the Water Services Bill, to the "Water Charges by the Back Door Bill".

Earlier, Fine Gael TD Colm Brophy accused Sinn Féin of "playing politics" and deliberately delaying the passage of the legislation.

However, Sinn Féin's Spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin denied that his party is responsible for delays to the legislation.

Both men were speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke ahead of the Dáil vote.