Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson Barry Cowen has hit back at this morning’s PR offensive from Irish Water and the Minister for Environment Phil Hogan, pointing out that the ‘major new investment’ spin collapses under even basic scrutiny.

He has also raised question marks about the timing of the announcement and the apparent politicisation of a supposed independent agency.

Deputy Cowen commented, “This morning’s PR offensive from Irish Water and the Environment Minister Phil Hogan is deeply disingenuous and would appear to represent nothing more than an election gimmick on behalf of the Government parties.

“Before any of the tens of millions of euro were poured into consultants to set up Irish Water, Phil Hogan commissioned a scoping study from PriceWaterhouseCoopers into what was already being spent on water and wastewater services. This report, published back in 2011, exposes this morning’s announcement as a sham.

“Page 12 of this report could not be clearer. It says: ‘The dependence on the Exchequer for Capital funding has in the past constrained investment in the sector. While approximately €600m is provided annually in capital investment, it is estimated that there is currently a backlog of approximately €500m for essential projects.’

“The €1.77B that Irish Water and the Government have been trumpeting in the print and broadcast media this morning is, therefore, nothing more than the existing level of capital investment and well short of what is needed to bring the system to the standard it should be before people are asked to contribute more money.

“This highly questionable presentation will do nothing to address people’s concerns about what is happening in our water sector and raises questions about how Irish Water is being used. As recently as yesterday we were being told that Irish Water couldn’t confirm the basic cost of a litre of water for consumers, yet this morning, they are being used to sell a bogus election story of bonanza investment.

“The timing of this intervention, a little over one week out from important elections is very suspicious. The speed with which Phil Hogan has moved to reinforce the spin suggests co-ordination and tells us that Fine Gael and Labour are beginning to realise the scale of public unhappiness with how they have managed this entire process.

“Unfortunately for Hogan and Irish Water, this announcement contains no new money and serves only to highlight the wasted €180 Million that was poured into setting up this new quango.”