More staff may be hired to administer Irish Water grant

Enda Kenny ‘confident’ Irish Water will pass European Commission’s ‘market test’

The Department of Social Protection is considering hiring more staff to administer the new €100 water conservation grant announced as part of the revised water charges package this week.

All households will be entitled to the subsidy, which replaces the previously announced rebate for welfare recipients and the water tax credit announced in the October budget.

It will require homes to register with Irish Water and then apply for the payment to the Department of Social Protection, which is administering the scheme on behalf of the Department of the Environment.

Sources in Government acknowledge this may place the Department of Social Protection under additional pressure, with the possibility that new staff will have to be hired.


A spokeswoman said the department was “currently assessing its requirements to administer” the water conservation grant.

The Government has already announced the lifting of the public sector recruitment ban, and this is expected to formally kick in next year.

Market test

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was confident Irish Water would pass the so-called market test when the

European Commission

examined the new structure unveiled by the Government this week.

Speaking in Cork, where he was attending a jobs announcement, Mr Kenny said: "I think it's important to point out the troika programme in Ireland has ended. They exited last year but they have a duty to come once every six months and review what's happening so the only purpose of the European Union being involved in Ireland's programme now is purely for statistical purposes.

"So we are very happy that the scheme put forward is predicated on passing the market corporation test as defined by Europe. "

Asked if the Government had an alternative plan if Irish Water failed the test, he said “the Government is happy and confident that Ireland will measure up in terms of the way the scheme has been designed”.


Mr Kenny, who was met by protesters at the Cork event, also said he was glad one of his

Fine Gael

TDs, Tipperary’s

Noel Coonan

, withdrew remarks in which he compared members of the anti-water-charge campaign to Isis jihadi militants.

In the Dáil yesterday, Fianna Fáil criticised the Government for writing off "with the stroke of a pen" the €66 million bill for commercial rates for Irish Water.

The party's public expenditure spokesman Sean Fleming described the move as a direct operational subsidy. He said it would not stand up to the Eurostat test.

Mr Fleming said the decision showed the Government was “looking after the super-quangos, the big people and the State monopolies but it has no regard for ordinary people, small businesses and those who are trying to keep employment in the country”.