Irish Water the right structure but its implementation was a ‘mess’ – Simon Coveney

Fianna Fáil TD says he will get €2 every Saturday night ‘for my bath’ while 700 are homeless in Dublin

Irish Water is "important, necessary and the right structure" to deliver water into the future, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said.

He also said it would be “political suicide” for any future government to attempt to privatise the water utility.

In a staunch defence of the beleaguered company, Mr Coveney said people who believed it should be dismantled “must understand that the way things were resulted in a fundamentally broken water system”.

The idea that they could simply invest public money to plug the leaks, go back to a situation in which 34 local authorities were all doing their own thing and everything would be fine “is naive at best”.


It was impossible, he said, for 34 local authorities doing their own thing to provide a consistent, sensible and seamless system.

“We are replacing 34 different local authorities with responsibility for water management with a single utility or entity that can benefit from economies of scale and borrow the significant sums of money needed to pursue short and medium term capital investment programmes” that are needed. That was something that Irish Water could do but local authorities could never accomplish.

“The thinking behind Irish Water was right, but its implementation was a mess,” but “we are now trying to put a much simpler system in place, having listened to what many, many people have been saying to us about their frustration and anger.”

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said however that "for the next seven years, every cent that will be collected by Irish Water will go to pay for itself before one leak is fixed or one lead pipe is replaced".

He said he would receive €100 from Irish Water because he had a private well and a septic tank. He would be paid €100 by the Government which he did not need.

“There are 700 people who are homeless in the city of Dublin tonight, yet I will be paid €2 every Saturday night for my bath.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times