Irish Water has had more than €1 billion spent on it to date, says Lucinda Creighton

Irish Water got €490m from local government fund, says Reform Alliance TD

More than €1 billion of taxpayers' money has already been spent on Irish Water with much more to follow, a former minister of state has claimed.

Reform Alliance TD Lucinda Creighton said the company had borrowed €250 million from the National Pensions Reserve Fund in 2013. This year, it collected a further €240 million from the property tax.

It also received €490 million from the local government fund this year, will get €190 million from businesses every year, “and will continue to collect a sum, which while substantially less than the €500 million a year originally intended, will be nonetheless substantial, from householders every year”.

Speaking during the two-day debate on the controversial Water Services Bill, which gives effect to the Government’s revised proposals on water charges and on the operation of Irish Water, she questioned the awarding of water-metering contracts.


"We do not have any transparency on how much the State has paid to Siteserv, which was sold to Millington for approximately €45.42 million in cash from the State-owned IBRC."

A subsidiary of the company, Sierra, was awarded a multimillion-euro contract for the installation of water meters, she said.

The former Fine Gael TD said taxpayers “have never been told how much they are paying to this company”.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said she would not pay the charges, in the belief that “water, of all public goods, is so basic a requirement for life itself . . . that it ought to be funded collectively through general taxation”.

The Dublin Central TD said access to a clean water supply was a basic fundamental right “that finds expression in international instruments, covenants and law. People want that right to be recognised in this State and to see it expressed in the Constitution”, through a referendum.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins described the Bill as a "highly duplicitous item of legislation and emanates from a Government that is reeling from a major movement of people power". He said the flat charge was €160 for a household with a single adult and €260 for a household with two or more adults, "but nobody is fooled by these measures", when the initial charges proposed would have seen a family with four adults paying €483 and a family with five adults paying €585.

Minister of State Paudie Coffey insisted domestic metering would reduce water usage by up to 15 per cent, based on international evidence. He said domestic meters were playing a crucial role in identifying customer-side leakage, estimated to account for approximately 10 per cent of water leaks.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times