Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson Barry Cowen has questioned the Government decision to prevent the Ombudsman from investigating complaints made against Irish Water.

Deputy Cowen says the policy decision means that there is no proper oversight of the superquango, despite the utility remaining on the states balance sheet.

Fianna Fáil published a Bill in April 2014 to expand the remit of the Ombudsman’s office to include IrishWater, Bord Gáis Éireann and the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER).

“It’s alarming to see the Government continuing to prevent proper oversight of Irish Water. It makes you wonder what they are trying to hide, especially considering the number of complaints against the utility is on the increase. Ombudsman Peter Tyndall has pointed out that the Government decision goes against international best practice,” said Deputy Cowen.

“Irish Water has cost the state in excess of €750m to date. This is money that could have been spent on upgrading our water infrastructure and improving other vital services. People expect proper oversight of Irish Water given the vast sums of money that have been spent setting up the superquango to date.

“The decision to only allow the regulator to deal with Irish Water complaints is unsatisfactory. Many of the complaints made to date relate to policy decisions being pushed by the regulator. People feel that their complaints are not getting proper independent investigation. TD’s also cannot get information on Irish Water through Dáil parliamentary questions. The Government needs to urgently reassess its position and ensure oversight of Irish Water is in line with best international practice,” said Deputy Cowen.