News Politics

Friday 19 September 2014

Phil Hogan: Irish Water differences will be ironed out ‘within 10 days’

Niall O’Connor Political Correspondent

Published 23/04/2014 | 13:57

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ENVIRONMENT Minister Phil Hogan has insisted that the government will resolve the outstanding issues relating to water charges within the next ten days.

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Mr Hogan said that negotiations are ongoing in relation to the exact tariff that will be applied but that this will be ironed out next week.

The Fine Gael minister was responding to suggestions that tensions still exist between his party and Labour over the issue of water charges.

Meanwhile, Mr Hogan said that he is keen to ensure that Irish Water does not become an entity that “will be bulging with additional staff”.

He said that voluntary packages will be made available, believed to be in the region of 1,100, to those staff who wish to return over the next three years. Some €39m is being allocated by the government to cater for the redundancies.

“The regulator will be looking at the establishment costs and the necessary numbers of people that are required to run an entity like Irish Water,” Mr Hogan said.

“And the government is responding to that by giving an opportunity to local authorities to see what are the levels of staff requirements that are required as part of Irish Water in order to deliver effectively for the consumer.

Gardai were called to a housing estate in Togher, Co Cork where work installing water meters was stopped after a protest

“And we will need no more or no less than the prescribed number of people. We’re not setting up an entity that will be bulging with additional staff.

“If people want to take a voluntary retirement package, they’ll be able to do so. But equally they’ll be able to transfer to other duties if they’re not needed for water duties.”

However, Fianna Fail today claimed that Irish Water is being given additional money to ensure that workers “simply go away”.

“As sure as night follows day, the next step will be to hire external consultants to replace the departing knowledge,” according to the party’s Environment spokesperson Barry Cowen.

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