Government backbenchers critical of Irish Water and charges in Dáil debate

Tánaiste says no bonuses for staff until company operational

Government backbenchers expressed concern in the Dáil yesterday about Irish Water and the charges to be implemented.

Sean Kyne (FG) said he wished he could say he was happy with everything about Irish Water. "I wish I could say it was running smoothly and there were no problems, but I cannot do so. There are many concerns.''

Mr Kyne, who was speaking during a resumed debate on a Fianna Fáil Private Member's motion calling for a review of Irish Water, said there was need for clarification on the call-out charges, and said it was not right for a newly established company to have the level of bonuses referred to.

“There is a genuine concern regarding the ability to pay, and I welcome the Government measures put in place. There is concern and confusion about this, and until all meters are installed we need to consider a capped charge, especially when many adults live in one household.’’


Derek Nolan (Lab) said the level of anger on the streets of Galway about Irish Water was off the scale. "I cannot genuinely tell people their anger is misplaced because this has been handled appallingly from day one.''

Mr Nolan said that instead of establishing a new ESB, a new HSE had been set up, and a level of confidence did not exist.

“We have much work to do in the coming months to put in place something in which people can have confidence.’’

Anthony Lawlor (FG) said while he had always been in favour of people paying for water, the issue of communication and Irish Water had "boggled'' him.


“We have seen the disappearance of the Irish Water CEO Mr

John Tierney

. He rarely comes forward to explain the situation, and when he does come forward to explain something it leads to more confusion.’’

Joe Costello (Lab) said Irish Water was "rapidly becoming an expression of derision countrywide''. They could see all the reasons: luxury offices, performance-related bonuses before it even got properly started; buying expensive external expert consulting services when Bord Gáis Éireann was seen as the most appropriate body to facilitate the delivery and establishment of the company.

Worse still, said Mr Costello, was its failure to communicate to the public its vision, role and confusing charging mechanism. “It has no credibility at present.’’

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Joan Burton told the Dáil she did not "anticipate'' any bonus payments until the company was "operational''. Pressed by Fianna Fáil's Barry Cowen on the issue, she said: "I don't anticipate any bonus payment in the context of a set-up period.''

She said the bonus payment was designed to save money and was a “structured payment in relation to salaries that actually forgoes increments’’.

She said the timeline for setting up the company was “too ambitious’’.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

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