LIMERICK city TD Willie O’Dea says he fears local authority jobs could dry up if the Government proceeds with plans to create a new national water services company.
And the former minister has accused Fine Gael of making disingenuous claims and says the only reason it is creating the company is in order to comply with the deal the Fianna Fail-led government entered into with the EU/IMF last year.
Attempts by Fine Gael to “disown” its own policies – as outlined in its own New Era policy document – were “ a u-turn too far”, Deputy O’Dea stated. He claimed Fine Gael members were now trying to distance themselves from previous commitments on forming a new company and reintroducing water charges.
Deputy O’Dea cited a Dail reply last week from Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd – who has responsibility for delivering Fine Gael’s New Era reforms – during which Deputy O’Dowd said said the only reason the Government is implementing any of these measures is because of commitments made by Fianna Fáil in Government under the memorandum of understanding agreed last November.
“This is completely false and I am surprised that Minister O’Dowd thought he could get away with such a misleading suggestion. Fine Gael’s plans for the setting up of a new water company introducing water charges featured heavily in its New Politics policy document published in March 2010 and also in its Reinventing Government policy document in early November 2010,” Deputy O’Dea stated.
“In fact, it was one of the high-profile initiatives that was going to deliver some of the tens of thousands of new jobs that the party claimed would come with the implementation of its famous five-point plan. The fact that it also appeared in the Fine Gael election manifesto confirms that this is a policy Fine Gael is committed to pursuing in government.”
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has dismissed claims Fine Gael plans to privatise water services in a new national company.
But Fine Gael did want a publicly-owned company that would invest in water services and manage water mains and supply at a national level.