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O’Dowd comments “a devastating indictment of Irish Water” – Adams

7 October, 2014 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has said that comments by former junior Environment Minister Fergus O’Dowd are a devastating indictment of Irish Water, of the new Water Tax and another example of the dysfunctionality of the government.

Questioning Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil this morning, Gerry Adams said:

“Taoiseach, former junior Environment Minister Fergus O’Dowd – the man who established Irish Water, has this morning criticised that company as ‘an unmitigated disaster’.

“Mr O’Dowd points out that Irish Water has become ‘another cosseted quango with a bonus culture’.

“Your former Minister says he simply ‘could not believe it’ when he heard last January that bonuses were to be paid to Irish Water staff, and he recommends that they be scrapped.

“He says he continuously articulated concerns about how Irish Water was run and, despite making the point at every high-level meeting that disadvantaged groups should not suffer an unfair burden, he was ignored. He says he raised all those issues with you.

“He points out that the exemptions that exist are ‘simply not wide enough’. He appeals for you to ‘look again at the support services that are available’.

“Taoiseach, the comments this morning by your former junior Minister are a devastating indictment of Irish Water and of the Water Tax and yet another example of the dysfunctionality of your government.”

The Sinn Fein Leader asked the Taoiseach, if he agreed with the former junior Minister, if he accepted that Irish Water is not working, and if he would scrap bonuses to Irish Water staff.

“Will you acknowledge that many, many households simply cannot afford to pay your Water Tax? And will you now give struggling families and hard pressed citizens a break by abolishing this unfair and unjust double tax?”, he asked.

Mr Adams said that Sinn Féin had protested strongly at the way the Water Services Bill was rushed through the Dáil and he reminded Mr Kenny that on the last sitting day of 2013, over 30 TDs left the Dáil chamber in protest at this.

He went on:

“Taoiseach, the Irish Water fiasco has involved huge sums of public money being pumped into a body that was neither wanted nor needed - a body that will shortly issue Water Charge bills on the direction of your government, to people who cannot afford to pay them.

“Will you accept that Irish Water, originally a Fianna Fáil proposition, adopted by Fine Gael and Labour, has amounted to a monumental misuse of the public’s money? And will you now pull back from punishing the public even further by imposing a regressive Water Tax which so many simply cannot afford?”

Mr Adams said he had previously raised with the Taoiseach the very issues which Fergus O’Dowd had highlighted, including the €50 million of taxpayers money given by the government to private sector consultants in Irish Water.

“You refused to answer any of my questions. But now we learn that the Minister responsible says he asked you the same questions. You obviously didn’t answer him either”, Mr Adams said.


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