Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has called on the Irish government to make Irish Water compliant with the Freedom of Information Act and to move speedily to ensure that all relevant information about the establishment of Irish Water is accessible and available to the public.
The Sinn Féin Louth and East Meath TD said:
“The debacle around Irish Water is symptomatic of the failures of the Fine Gael and Labour government. Both parties came to power condemning the bad politics of Fianna Fáil and promising greater transparency and openness and accountability in government. Instead there has been a litany of broken promises and u-turns and the guillotine has seen significant use in the Dáil as the government has sought to stifle debate and push through its legislation.
“In government Fine Gael and Labour abolished water charges. In opposition they rejected water charges but now in government again they are reintroducing them. It is also worth noting that Fianna Fáil agreed to impose water charges under an EU-IMF arrangement but is now opposed to them.
“From the very beginning of the project, Irish water has wasted good money after bad;
· It has received €500m from the Pension Reserve Fund to install water meters
· This was followed by over €200m in the recent budget
· Only to be followed by a further allocation from the local government fund
“Then, this week Irish Water admitted that the company has spent €50m of public money on private consultants.
“People across the state are angry at this huge outlay of public money. Such public anger is understandable considering the level of experience regarding water supply that already exists in the 34 local councils.
“Rather than spend this enormous amount of money on private consultants, Irish Water should have given this work to local authority staff. This would have been an immediate saving to the taxpayer.
“We learned on Sunday, through a confidential report obtained by RTÉ's This Week programme that the Government expected Irish Water would be established using Bord Gáis' "existing operational capacity" in the specific areas of IT, asset management, customer billing systems, and other key functions.
“However, according to tender documents published on the European tendering system, the Official Journal of the European Union, the services that Irish Water has acquired from external consultants include asset management services, customer services, and other IT functions — the very services the report said should be deployed by Bord Gáis.
“So, major questions now need to be asked regarding the payment of €50 million of public money on private consultants.
“Sinn Féin intends raising this issue in the Dáil when it returns on Wednesday.”
Concluding Gerry Adams said:
“Water charges are an integral part of the government’s austerity strategy. They are an unacceptable additional stealth charge on households. The installation of water meters, their cost and the water charges that will follow will add significantly to the burden on families. This regressive tax, coupled with the others already imposed by this government, are crippling households and families.
Sinn Féin is fundamentally opposed to the introduction of water charges, to the privatisation of water and sewerage service provision.
In the north Sinn Féin has prevented the introduction of water charges and the privatisation of the water services and will continue to do so.”