Fianna Fáil’s Seanad Spokesperson on Public Expenditure, Senator Thomas Byrne, has accused the Government of showing total disregard for communities that are still experiencing problems with their water.
The Environment Minister Phil Hogan has refused to consider a request from Fianna Fáil to introduce a small grant for households affected by hard-water to allow them to buy softeners to reduce the lime content in their water.
“Minister Hogan’s dismissive attitude towards households with hard water issues is just a symptom of his total disregard for communities across the country that are still suffering significant water problems just months before charges hit,” said Senator Byrne.
“I know many households that have to fork out hundreds of euro a year for bottled water and softeners due to high lime content in their water. How can they be expected to pay charges on top of this for a service that is clearly not of decent quality?
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that households will soon be expected to pay for their water regardless of the quality of the service. Those communities affected by serious deficiencies in water quality, chronic leaks, and regular disruptions to their water supply will still be expected to pay the same charges as everyone else.
“The Government and Irish Water have been totally consumed with setting up a Super Quango to charge people for their water and have made little or no effort to upgrade the water network. Approximately €800 million of taxpayers’ money has already gone into setting up Irish Water, installing water meters and moving ahead with enforcing charges. Meanwhile chronic problems with the water network are virtually ignored.
“Minister Hogan, the Taoiseach and other Government representatives have attempted to justify the establishment of this Super Quango by claiming it will result in a better water quality and preservation. But none of the actions of the Government or the new Super Quango have even hinted at this being a priority. Consumers are getting absolutely nothing from this. The result is that from October, households across the country will be expected to pay for the same service they have always received, regardless of the quality of that service.
“Now that Minister Hogan has successfully rammed through his water charges legislation and his Super Quango is well up and running, it seems he isn’t even bothered hiding his indifference towards the communities affected.”