Fianna Fáil Environment spokesperson Barry Cowen TD has outlined a series of misleading claims made by the Tánaiste during a Prime Time interview in which she sought to deflect attention from the fiasco of the Government’s handling of water charges.
Deputy Cowen stated, “Right from the start of the interview the Tánaiste sought to confuse the issues with a series of assertions which are completely at variance with the facts. Her claim that the water is not regressive completely disregards the fact that that it is no way related to ability to pay.
“In addition she sought to deny that the net revenue from the introduction of domestic water charges will be less than €90m. However her colleague Alan Kelly has been forced to admit that the gross revenue of €271m from domestic water charges will be offset by €180m in the so called “water conservation grant.”
“In addition to the huge expense of running Irish Water there will be a series of further costs associated directly as a result of the latest U-turn including the administering new €100 scheme within Department of Social Protection, interest on the loan to fund unused water meters and consultancy costs associated with multiple revisions of the charging structure. Irish Water is both an operation and commercial disaster. Huge sums of money are being spent to yield minimal levels of revenue. Meanwhile the much needed investment in the network is being hampered by the organisational issues besetting.
“The Minister made the extraordinary claim that “meters will be critical in the detection of leaks”. As Joan Burton well knows the vast majority of leaks do occur within the curtilage of people’s home and water meters will have an insignificant role in the detection of leaks within the broader water network.
“Joan Burton finished an extraordinary performance in obfuscation by stating that “the revenue from Irish Water is extremely solid”. Any potential investor looking at lending money to this company will be mesmerised by the manner in which its operation has been made entirely subservient to the short term political needs of the government. Despite being previously told that its charging structure was a matter for the Commission for Energy Regulation the government was able at the stroke of a pen to set this aside in a desperate attempt to assuage public anger on the issue. Its revenue base is anything but solid as has been amply demonstrated by this week’s events.”