Fergus O’Dowd threatened to resign after Irish Water disagreement

Fine Gael TD told Dáil he had said first repair to water system should be free for users

Fine Gael TD Fergus O'Dowd said he threatened to resign as a minister of state with responsibility for Irish Water in a disagreement with its chief executive John Tierney

Mr O’Dowd, who was dropped from his post in a ministerial reshuffle by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, told the Dáil tonight he had said at a conference that the first repair to the water system should be free for consumers.

“Mr John Tierney disagreed with me at the conference,’’ he added. Mr O’Dowd said that when he returned to the Department of the Environment, he was told that a press release was being issued contradicting what he had said at the conference.

“I said, fair enough, you put that out and I am resigning,’’ he added. “The press release did not go out.’’


He said he had made it “exceptionally clear’’ at a meeting attended by at least three ministers that Irish Water should be a stand-alone company and should not be part of any other company or conglomerate if it had credibility.

Mr O’Dowd said he had also sought a commitment that Irish Water would never be privatised. But it had not been included in the legislation at the time and he had objected strongly.

"That was absolutely wrong,'' he added. "We were going back on an absolutely fundamental promise that I had made in the Oireachtas. ''

He said that the then minister for the environment Phil Hogan had later included it in the Bill.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times