The latest revelation of excessive spending at Irish Water proves that the interests of customers and taxpayers were cast aside in the establishment of Phil Hogan’s new super quango, according to Fianna Fáil’s Environment Spokesperson Barry Cowen.
It’s emerged that the Energy Regulator raised significant concerns about the start-up costs for Irish Water four months ago – before legislation was rammed through the Dáil and before costly 12-year deals were struck with councils to provide services for Irish Water.
Deputy Cowen commented, “This is proof that the needs of customers and the interests of the taxpayers were simply cast aside in the creation of Irish Water. It rubbishes the Government’s mantra that the sole objective of setting up Irish Water was to provide a better service for customers. It also disproves their claim that the Regulator was satisfied with the level of spending and charges.
“The start-up costs sanctioned by Minister Phil Hogan and his Cabinet colleagues raised alarm bells for the Energy Regulator, who believed that up to 20%, or €30 million, could be considered unreasonable. The Regulator also had serious concerns that customers would pay the brunt of costly deals struck by Irish Water with local authorities, saying these deals would not be ‘in the long term interests’ of customers.
“These concerns were raised in a letter from the Regulator to Irish Water, months before any deal was signed. But once again, the Government ignored the independent advice given to them and pushed ahead with plans that would ultimately mean much higher costs for the taxpayer. Taxpayers are picking up the tab for setting up a new corporate entity at huge and unnecessary expense, whose entire focus to date has been on charging people and not on fixing leaks and chronic problems with the water supply.
“We need to know what discussions Minister Hogan had with the Energy Regulator about their concerns regarding Irish Water’s excessive start-up costs. The Regulator exists to protect the interests of customers. The customers who will be picking up the tab for all of this have a right to know what consultation took place between the Minister and the Regulator to address the concerns that were raised on their behalf.”