Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has said the failure of Irish Water to get approval from Eurostat to be treated as a stand-alone semi-State operation exposes the Government’s disastrous water policy for what it is.
Deputy Martin commented: “The whole debate around Irish Water and the introduction of water charges has been punctuated by mistruths, threatening rhetoric and mismanagement from Government at every juncture. The fact that Irish Water has failed to meet the Eurostat test is a damning indictment of the policy that has been adopted and the rush to establish the agency and bring in water charges.
“We need to get a comprehensive statement from the Taoiseach about what the Government intends to do now. The EU has completely exposed the lie at the heart of the Irish Water horror story. Irish Water will not be able to stand on its own without government financial aid unless it increases water charges. The Fine Gael model for this agency all along was that households would be paying high charges within a matter of years. In fact looking at the detail of the Eurostat decision today it is clear there are more fundamental concerns about the structure and governance of Irish Water that go way beyond its reliance on State funding.
“It is not credible for Ministers to simply shrug off the EU ruling and plough on issuing bills customers aren’t paying and pretend they have created this quango on a sustainable footing. Irish Water’s financial architecture is in tatters and Europe has pointed out major issues with its governance structure.
“Last Autumn the Taoiseach claimed that a reversal of water charges would be equivalent to increasing the top tax rate by 4%. Enda Kenny must immediately clarify where he stands of this now in light of the EU ruling. Is the Government seriously telling people this decision will have no impact on their policy?
“This Government has buried its head in the sand for long enough. Irish Water is a failed political project first envisioned by Fine Gael in 2009 and hopelessly propped-up by the Labour Party in Government. The Government is continuing to spend hundreds of millions of euro on water meters, consultants’ fees, billing and set-up costs for Irish Water and it is been a complete waste of money.
“Fianna Fáil is committed to dismantling this bloated entity that has no prospect of securing the confidence or support of the Irish public. The Government needs to recognise the extent of its failures with Irish Water. It is simply not credible to do otherwise.”