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“Absurd” Government responsible for “bizarre” water bill debacle - Adams

25 March, 2015 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams has raised with Taoiseach Enda Kenny what he called the “bizarre debacle” of Irish Water sending bills to households for a service they do not receive. Mr Adams asked the Taoiseach how citizens could have any faith in the Government’s water policy when those entrusted with running water services cannot even get the basics right.

Gerry Adams said:

“Yesterday the Taoiseach made clear that he fully supports Environment Minister Alan Kelly’s intention to take Water Charges from people’s wages and social welfare payments. He also disclosed that Minister Kelly has yet to put a proposal to the Cabinet and he refused to outline the legal basis for the process he fully supports.

“That would seem strange to most people. But in Enda Land the absurd is presented as a form of Government. Now Water Charge Bills will be issued by Irish Water to citizens who are not customers of Irish Water. Bills will also be issued to households which have undrinkable water, including those who have to boil their water. Up to 150,000 properties with a private well and septic tank, will also be billed by Irish Water.

“So, all these citizens will receive bills for a service they do not receive and you are now threatening to deduct these bills from their wages, pensions or social welfare payments. This bizarre debacle is surely worthy of Flann O’Brien himself. It would be laughable but for the fact that it is causing huge confusion and further anger among our citizens.

“But this doesn’t concern Mr Kenny because it’s not his money. The taxpayers will also pay the cost for the bills they receive for the service they don’t get. In Enda Land the Government paid €85 million in taxpayers money to private consultants to advise on all of this.

“How on earth are citizens to have any faith in the Government’s Water Charge policy when those to whom you have entrusted the running of our water services cannot even get the basics right?

“It is ironic that a Labour Party Minister – The Minister for Making It Up As He Goes Along - is responsible for this mess. In opposition, the Labour Party firmly ruled out the introduction of Water Charges. But it is has since emerged that Labour was planning, since 2010, to introduce Water Charges.

“An internal Labour Party memo, prepared for then Labour leader Eamon Gilmore and deputy Leader Joan Burton clearly outlines plans for the introduction of Water Charges and the installation of water meters. So, we now know where Labour has stood on this issue all along, despite what they told the electorate.

“Yesterday I asked the Taoiseach if he had spoken to his old pal Phil Hogan about the un-minuted and unrecorded meetings between him and the Chairwoman of Bord Gáis abiout setting up Irish Water

Given the latest revelations about the billing debacle, it is time that the Government acknowledged that Fine Gael and the Labour Party have no mandate and there is no sense in what they are doing on Water Charges? The Government should scrap Water charges. Failing this, Mr Kenny should get an exit visa from Enda Land and call a General Election on this issue.”

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