Straight talking could have prevented Irish Water ‘debacle’, says FG Senator Naughton

Quinn warns of inflation increasing water charges by more than 50 per cent

Senator  Hildegarde Naughton said the costs involved in the establishment of  Irish Water were justifiable and “should have been published in itemised fashion from the outset and defended”. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Senator Hildegarde Naughton said the costs involved in the establishment of Irish Water were justifiable and “should have been published in itemised fashion from the outset and defended”. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Thu, Jan 23, 2014, 01:00



The Irish Water “debacle” could have been avoided by straight talking at the outset, a Government Senator has said.

Criticising the way the costs involved in the establishment of the semi-State agency were revealed, Fine Gael’s Hildegarde Naughton said the costs were justifiable and “should have been published in itemised fashion from the outset and defended”.

She said when spending public money to establish a public utility there was an onus to ensure full transparency.

Ms Naughten said bringing utility systems together was not new to Ireland. “An all-island single electricity market was set up in Ireland in 2005. This cost €265 million to set up.”

The Galway Senator was speaking during a debate on Irish Water.

Impact of inflation
Independent Senator Feargal Quinn expressed concern about the impact of inflation on the cost of water. He said “the price of water in Canada has increased by 58 per cent since it made the move we are making. In Denmark, between 1993 and 2004, the price increased by 54 per cent.” He asked what guaranteed the same thing would not happen in Ireland.

“I am fully in favour of the concept of charging for water. Anything which comes free of charge tends to be wasted, and the danger of water being wasted is very high.”

But “the real danger, however, is that the Government will treat water charges as another form of taxation, and will use them as a way to extract more money from businesses and members of the public”.

Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd said he was given the responsibility of ensuring there would be absolute transparency and accountability. “There can be nothing hidden, and full transparency must apply in respect of all of these costs.”