Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment, Barry Cowen TD, says the Government cannot continue to ignore the voice of the people over the Irish Water shambles.

Speaking ahead of planned protest marches throughout the country today, Deputy Cowen said the Government’s disastrous handling of the set-up of Irish Water has caused considerable public anger.

He commented: “Hundreds of thousands of people from every community in the country will today march against the Government’s strategy and delivery on Irish Water. The protests today will include people against water charges of any sort, but also a sizeable section of people disgusted with how the Government has handled the issue. The complete lack of fairness by not including an ability to pay clause, utter confusion over allowances and millions of euro wasted on consultants has led to widespread public disillusionment.

“Every time a Government representative has spoken on Irish Water they have managed to confuse and agitate people more. Fine Gael and Labour are in disarray over Irish Water and desperate attempts to tinker around edges of the problem has turned a bad situation into a complete disaster.

“It is now time for the Government to take responsibility for this mess, acknowledge the truth of what their colleague Fergus O’Dowd has been saying and admit they got this wrong from the very beginning. From an initial position of denying there was an issue, the Fine Gael and Labour spin machine tried to point the finger at the CEO of Irish Water.  When this failed, the Government desperately scrambled to come up with half-baked solutions that only served to infuriate the public even further.

“Irish Water was the wrong strategy from day one, dreamed up in opposition by a Fine Gael party enthralled by the privatised water utility model in Britain. The Government started with the wrong plan and went downhill from there.

“Fianna Fáil has called for the suspension of all water charges until a complete review is carried out into the set-up, administration, role and future of Irish Water. Unless the Government takes people’s anger seriously and opens the door to a change of approach, the Irish Water situation is going to spiral into an ever costlier and more divisive mess.”