Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment, Barry Cowen TD, says comments by former Minister Fergus O’Dowd that the set-up of Irish Water was an “unmitigated disaster” point to a deep dysfunction in its establishment by Fine Gael and Labour.
Deputy Cowen said many of the concerns raised by Fianna Fáil since Irish Water’s establishment, which were made while Deputy O’Dowd was the Minister in charge, are now being acknowledged.
He commented: “From its very establishment, Fianna Fáil raised deep concerns about this bonus-driven, super Quango. From the start Fianna Fáil warned about rushing through legislation without proper scrutiny, I also warned about the fact no account was taken for people’s ability to pay. All of these matters were raised with Fergus O’Dowd when he was the Minister in charge, which fell on deaf ears at the time.
“Irish Water was set up by ramming the legislation through the Oireachtas without debate and now many of the failings plaguing the company and the Government are coming to light.
“Even now there is no proper complaints mechanism in place so people can raise their concerns about the bills they will be forced to pay in January.
“The considerable public anger with Irish Water is now a big concern for Fine Gael and Labour. Measures must now be taken to address the issues raised. People’s ability to pay has to be taken into consideration. It is deeply unfair to charge people the same rates for water no matter what income is coming into the household.
“Moves must also be made to allocate capital funding to address the water infrastructure problem. As much as half of all water in some areas is being lost through leaking pipes. How can people have confidence in the water utility if there are no plans to fix faulty pipes?
“The comments from Deputy O’Dowd should serve as a wake-up call for the Taoiseach and the Government. Changes must be made to acknowledge people’s ability to pay.”