July 4, 2016, 6:44 p.m.
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The chair of the independent commission examining water charges has criticised those calling for his resignation.
Fianna Fail and the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People before Profit Alliance have called for Joe O’Toole to step down after a series of controversial interviews.
Mr O’Toole told the Irish Times: “I believe I have been open and honest and transparent about my views. They are honestly held.
“It is sad that among others there is an incapacity to tolerate and explore views of those with a different perspective.”
Mr O’Toole has been appointed chair of an independent body examining the future of water charges.
In media interviews the former Senator said he believed in the polluter pays principle and insisted water must be paid for.
Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen said Mr O’Toole must consider his position after his ill-judged comments.
He said: “For the commission’s process to enjoy public support, it is essential that those involved approach the question of funding with an open mind.
“By making clear his view before the process of examination even begins and pre-empting the outcome, he has raised serious question marks about his suitability for this role.”
Sinn Féin TD Eoin O’Broin also questioned the wholly inappropriate comments by Mr O’Toole.
He said the commission’s work would be undermined by the remarks while Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy insisted he should step down as chair.
Mr O’Toole told The Irish Times he would be an independent and open-minded chair and would listen to the “valid views” of those opposed to water charges.
He said: “It is the creative tension between different views that leads to solid outcomes. As for me I look forward to learning more about this issue and as ever when the facts change I will change.
“Our report will be informed by the common good and will be fair, honest and compassionate.”