Wednesday 7 December 2016

Eddie Molloy: FF plan to axe Irish Water is a politically motivated stunt - and it would cost us

Eddie Molloy

Published 08/04/2016 | 02:30

'Puffed up with moral self-righteousness, Timmy Dooley proclaims that Fianna Fáil will “honour its electoral promise to abolish Irish Water” ' Photo :Tom Burke
'Puffed up with moral self-righteousness, Timmy Dooley proclaims that Fianna Fáil will “honour its electoral promise to abolish Irish Water” ' Photo :Tom Burke

The country was badly served when Irish Water was set up in such a ham-fisted way but it would be even more badly served if it were now to be "abolished", as Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and others would have it. If ever there was a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, abolition of Irish Water would be it.

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Decades of neglect by successive governments and piecemeal delivery of services by 32 local authorities left our national water infrastructure in a dire state. Ironically, it is only because of the mapping done by Irish Water that we now know just how precarious is the supply of clean water, the scale of losses through leaks and the extent of pollution in our rivers and lakes.

It took external pressure from the Troika for an Irish government to do what was long overdue, to establish a unified national water utility. However, the inept way in which it was set up by then Environment Minister Phil Hogan in 2013 saddled the fledgling organisation with a plethora of problems that were seized upon by opposition parties and ultimately moulded into the main plank of their General Election platforms. Both the Government's handling of these problems - for example, the absurd €100 sweetener - and some of Irish Water's responses to media queries compounded the company's difficulties.

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