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Stanley - EU report confirms ‘sleight of hand’ on Irish Water funding

23 January, 2015 - by Brian Stanley TD

The Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment Brian Stanley TD has said that the leaked EU report on the government’s plans to finance Irish Water confirm what he has pointed out previously, regarding Irish Water financing itself. He was responding to an EU Commission report that casts doubts on the charging structure and funding proposed for Irish Water.

Deputy Stanley said:

“Following the announcement by Minister Kelly of the so-called concessions forced by the mass opposition to the water charges, I highlighted the sleight of hand he was engaged in. While the charges had been introduced on the basis that it would remove the need for direct exchequer funding, it was clear that Irish Water will be unable for at least the next three years to raise sufficient finance from its operations.

“The Government spin is that Irish Water will be able to borrow ‘off balance sheet’.  This report raises doubts about that and thereby undermines one of the financial reasons given for the establishment of Irish Water.

“It was also obvious that the government would come into conflict with the EU regarding its massive subvention of Irish Water from tax revenue. All of which begs the question as to what the point in setting up this monstrosity was in the first place.

“Far from creating a more cost effective service, it is imposing more costs on households. We will have gone from a situation where people were paying through taxation for their water, to a situation where they will be paying directly through water charges, and continuing to subsidise Irish Water through massive subventions from taxation which is heading close to €2 billion to date!

“It also confirms that the €100 conservation grant is merely a fig leaf, as there is no incentive whatsoever to conserve water if everyone is the charge is unrelated to usage. Which confirms what I have said all along that the water charges are simply another means of taxation. And not a particularly efficient one at that. The Government clearly need to go back to the drawing board on all of this.”

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