Government ‘forced by Troika’ to set up Irish Water too early

Pat Rabbitte says timeframe of 18 months was ‘too short’ and money could have been saved if company was given more time

Pat Rabbitte said if  the Department of the Environment had seven or eight years to set up Irish Water, it would have cost less.

Pat Rabbitte said if the Department of the Environment had seven or eight years to set up Irish Water, it would have cost less.

 

The Government was “railroaded by the Troika” into setting up Irish Water too early, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbite has said.

The Labour TD said that the Troika tried to “force” setting up Uisce Éireann in 18 months, which was too short, and that public money could have been saved if the utility company was given more time to establish itself.

“If the Department of the Environment had seven or eight years to install this it probably could have done so more cheaply,” he told RTÉ Radio. “But it couldn’t do it without going outside [to bring in expertise and contractors]. It leveraged €37 million of expertise from Bord Gáis...but that was never enough.”

However, Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin described the Minister’s remarks as “ disingenuous” and an effort “to blame the Troika for the mess his colleague Phil Hogan has made”.

“Pat Rabbitte asks us to believe that the Troika’s insistence on speedy establishment of Irish Water is to blame for the €85 million spent on consultants and carve up of senior jobs among a very limited pool of people,” he said, adding that establishing a national water company was has been a “a cornerstone of Fine Gael policy since before [Mr Rabbite] was in Government”.

“The establishment of Irish Water was rushed for the simple reason that its primary remit is to begin charging customers... as soon as possible, irrespective of cost,” added the Fianna Fáil leader.

Mr Rabbitte also said service level agreements in place with local authorities are “to induce them all into the new company Uisce Éireann, so that they become employees of Irish Water”.

He added that a committee was held with managers and former managers from local authorities to resolve issues regarding the transfer of “key people” in the organisations.

Yesterday RTÉ’s This Week programme obtained confidential documents dealing with the issue. The national broadcaster claims the material shows that there could be a link between local authorities indicating their co-operation to establish Irish Water and assurances on jobs, pensions and the length of service-level agreements.

Mr Martin also called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to order a full publication of the documents, alleging that the material appears to “shed more light on the confusion and dysfunction surrounding the establishment of Irish Water”.

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