Deputy Cowen said: “The story of Irish Water has been an unmitigated disaster from the start and the cost to the taxpayer has been enormous. The government’s water policy is now left in tatters by the failure of its Super Quango to meet the Eurostat test.
“Who in the government is going to take responsibility for this mess? The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and successive ministers have expressed confidence and satisfaction with Irish Water despite persistent warnings for Fianna Fáil about the problems it was storing up.
“The entire edifice on which Irish Water has been constructed has now collapsed completely. What we need to know now is just how much Irish Water is paying on its borrowings. It can’t claim commercial confidentiality as it has no competitors. We need to compare what rate it is paying compared to the State’s borrowing. This is the worst of all worlds because Irish Water is almost certainly paying a higher rate for its loans which now have to be counted on the national balance sheet.
“Only last week it was revealed that Minister Alan Kelly had sanctioned a further €550m in borrowing by Irish Water, taking its borrowing to €850m. This is on top of €80m spent on consultants’ costs all the while €540m has been wasted on water meters. The Government previously announced in €600m a year would be spent on water and sewerage investment but the reality for this has been completely undermined now. This disastrous policy needs to stop immediately.
“It is time for Fine Gael and Labour to admit that they made a mistake in setting up a hugely expensive Super Quango instead of keeping our water infrastructure with local authorities and spending the money on improving the water network. The establishment of a water quango has been Fine Gael policy since 2009. The reality is that they have made a complete shambles of it at the taxpayers’ expense.”