Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has indicated it will be “very difficult” to deduct the €100 conservation grant from refunds issued to households that paid water charges.

Mr Varadkar has again promised that almost one million households can look forward to getting their money back before Christmas.

However, he said he is still working with Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to decide the exact mechanism by which refunds will issue.

Read More: Irish Water faces 'logistical nightmare' over refunds

He said: “Now believe it’ll be possible to do the refunds this year.

“We anticipate that will start in the autumn and everybody will be refunded before Christmas.

“There may be a few cases where we run into difficulty like people who have deceased or left the country.

“But in the vast majority we intend to have water charges refunded starting this autumn and all done by Christmas,” he said.

Asked whether the Government plan to claw back the water conservation grant, Mr Varadkar said this would be “very difficult to do”.

Read More: Leo Varadkar: People will get water charges refunds 'within weeks'