Independent TD Mattie McGrath is set to introduce a Private Members Bill (PMB) in the Dáil Order of Business today aimed at further strengthening public scrutiny of Irish Water and creating measures designed to eliminate the likelihood of punitive costs associated with water pipe repairs being levelled at low income households. Deputy McGrath made his comments as further damning revelations have emerged which show that Irish Water has paid out an astonishing €5 million in legal fees to three Dublin law firms since it was established:
“The Government are clearly trying to give the impression that the Irish Water farce has been dealt with and now it is time to move on.
In light of that, what I hope my PMB will achieve in the short term is the forced re-engagement of Government with many aspects of this sorry saga that still deserve further critical scrutiny.
For instance, one of the measures I am seeking to have introduced is for some kind of insurance facility to be offered to households in the event of pipe repair or leaks.
We know from their submission to the Energy Regulator that Irish Water are going to charge anything in the region of €188 for a standard call out charge with each additional hour costing you €141.
This makes an absolute mockery of the ‘capped charge’ and the Government focus on affordability.
If these charges persist then it will not matter if the charges are abolished or reduced to 50 cent for a year since the cost of even two repairs which exceed one hour would be the equivalent to almost three years waters charges for a single household.
Yes we need to abolish the charges themselves, but the liabilities associated with repairs are where people will really feel it and it is an area that has not received enough debate. My Bill aims to remedy that.
Irish Water also intends charging €220 to test water pressure and €17 for a special meter reading.
When these are combined it throws the Government’s attempts to reduce costs for households into the realm of the absurd.
My Bill will require the Minister for the Environment to direct Irish Water, if it continues in existence, to provide for some mechanism whereby these costs will be eliminated or severely reduced.
It is my hope that Government will actively consider this measure and the several other provisions that are contained in my PMB; for in that way we can really see if they are still interested in ‘listening’ or just shutting down debate and moving on,” concluded Deputy McGrath.