Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson, Barry Cowen TD, has responded to the confirmation this morning that the public will pick up Irish Water’s consultancy bill in water charges that begin tomorrow. Confirmation came from the Energy Regulator who was tasked with breaking the news on charges by the Government.

Deputy Cowen commented: “This morning we finally had confirmation that the massive consultancy bill that was accumulated during the setting up of Irish Water will be paid by customers. Perhaps the Government was hoping that this injustice would go unnoticed in the publicity surrounding the confirmation of charges, but it will not. The manner in which the Government tried to hide the massive cost of private consultants and the way in which the scale of it was finally revealed did enormous damage to the credibility of this quango. Today’s confirmation that the public will be footing the bill directly through their new bills will cause further frustration.

“Fianna Fáil is also disappointed that the Regulator and the Government did not engage in any discussion with the Oireachtas to explain the dramatic reduction in free allowances, which we requested in our submission to the CER. This failure to explain the move is unfortunately typical of the way the Government has conducted its Irish Water business since day one.

“Another source of major disappointment is the decision to levy Irish Water bills on families enduring boil water notices. The Government spin machine has been in full swing to present a reduction in the overall bill as a major concession, but the small print tells a different and very depressing story to these families. Despite the failure of Irish Water to provide the most basic service of drinkable water, this new quango is being facilitated in hitting them with an average bill of €140 per year.

“Minister Alan Kelly, who has been highly conspicuous in his absence from any discussion about his new quango, needs to explain why he thinks it is fair to ask customers pay for expensive consultants, outline why free allowances have been slashed and acknowledge his failure to put in place a fair scheme for people who cannot even drink the water they are provided with.”