Fianna Fáil has criticised the Government for prioritising political gain over the welfare of households by refusing to clarify the exact amount of water charges just six weeks ahead of the local and European elections.
Questioning the Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin in the Dáil today, Deputy Cowen said the operations of Irish Water are still shrouded in secrecy. He said it’s unacceptable that households remain in the dark about the extent of the water charges they will face from October.
Deputy Cowen commented, “The Government’s position was meant to be set out well in advance of local elections in May. But we still have a bonus-driven Super Quango that is shrouded in secrecy and households remain completely in the dark about the bills they will begin to clock up from October.
“It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Fine Gael and Labour are doing their very best to dodge this controversial issue until after the local and European elections in an attempt to salvage as many votes as possible. They are putting their own political survival ahead of the welfare of taxpayers.
“So far approximately €800 million of taxpayers’ money has been pumped into the establishment of Irish Water, the removal of assets from local authorities, the water metering process and the framework for charges. Not one cent has been spent on fixing leaks, upgrading older water systems or on improving water quality in the communities that are still suffering chronic water problems.
“Minister Howlin today repeated the Government’s mantra that the establishment of Irish Water is purely about creating a water system that’s fit for purpose. If that’s really the case, then why is it that Super Quango has still not fixed one single leak or outdated pipe with all the taxpayers’ money it has received? Far from upgrading our water supply, the entire focus of the Government and Irish Water has been on setting up a corporate entity to charge people. The only thing that consumers are getting in return is charges – not any improved service.
“The Government’s disinterest is such that it hasn’t even bothered to make a submission to the Commission for Energy Regulation’s consultation process on water costs and free allowances. I understand that it hasn’t even been discussed at Cabinet level. It is completely unacceptable that households, who need to manage their finances, are being side-lined by a Government obsessed with its own political preservation.”