Collins: scrap Irish Water and suspend bills

Eugene Phelan

Reporter:

Eugene Phelan

Niall Collins says �540m is rotting in the ground thanks to the government's wasteful installation of water meters. Pictured: gardai had to be called in on several occasions to monitor protests against the installation of water meters Picture Liam Burke/Press 22
Fianna Fail Justice spokesman Niall Collins says new legislation going through the Dail will open the floodgates to allow an “unprecedented number of households” being brought before the District Court to enforce payment of Irish Water bills

Fianna Fail Justice spokesman Niall Collins says new legislation going through the Dail will open the floodgates to allow an “unprecedented number of households” being brought before the District Court to enforce payment of Irish Water bills

Deputy Collins has warned that the Civil Debt (Procedures) Bill 2015 will allow attachment orders being made against social welfare payments and regular earnings for Irish Water bills.

“We believe this Bill forms part of the new legislative measures that the Government has been forced to introduce to shore up Irish Water and convince European officials of the financial viability of that company,” he said in the Dail. “For the first time, the Bill will allow attachment orders being made against social welfare payments and regular earnings for Irish Water bills and other outstanding debts. We know that currently, Irish Water will not release statistics on the number of households that have not paid their Irish Water bills.

He says it is estimated that more than 400,000 people are still refusing to pay their water charges. This legislation could herald the beginning of an unprecedented number of households being brought before the District Court to enforce payment of Irish Water bills, with the potential to clog up the court lists and create further social unrest.

“It is clear that the establishment of the Irish Water super-quango has been a complete debacle. It has already lost the support and confidence of the Irish public, “ he contended.

“The Government will struggle to raise the net €140 million in new charges and it will not invest an extra cent in infrastructure. There has been €540 million wasted on water meters that will not be used and €172 million has been spent establishing a bloated quango. The accountancy trick of taking Irish Water off the national balance sheet has backfired badly. It is this party’s position that it is time to suspend water charges and abolish Irish Water, “ he claimed.

He said more than 1.7 million bills totalling €70 million have been sent to households since May. Irish Water will submit bills to the tune of €271 million over the next year.

A significant number of people have been billed but we do not know what will be the compliance rate.

“The secrecy surrounding the Irish Water project has brought Government policy into significant disrepute. It has also seen a colossal waste of money occur in the establishment of Irish Water and in the installation of water meters. A total of €540 million is rotting in the ground thanks to the Government,” the Limerick TD said.