Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Sean Fleming has published the Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill 2014, a draft law that would expand the remit of the Ombudsman’s office to include Irish Water, Bord Gáis Éireann and the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER).
Deputy Fleming published the legislation in the Dáil today.
He commented: “The role of the Ombudsman is to investigate complaints from members of the public who believe they have been unfairly treated by certain public bodies. The Ombudsman is impartial and respected by the public. Up to now all issues relating to water services could be reviewed by the Ombudsman as the services were being delivered by local authorities. However the legislation setting up Irish Water removed this right from members of the public.
“This is a reduction in citizens’ rights. This is a reduction in consumers’ rights.
There are two regulators for Irish Water; The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), is the economic regulator and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is the regulator for environmental and water quality matters. There is no one looking after consumers who are faced with unknown bills set to run to hundreds of euro a year.
“Irish Water is a state monopoly and it should come under the remit of the Ombudsman. The government previously refused on several occasions to bring Irish Water under the Freedom of Information Act and was eventually forced to do a u-turn on that.”
Deputy Fleming’s legislation would also bring Bord Gáis Éireann, the parent company for Irish Water, and the Commission for Energy Regulation under the remit of the Ombudsman.