Thursday 23 November 2017

Leo Varadkar defends Irish Water after ERSI criticism of costs

Niall O'Connor, Political Correspondent

LEO Varadkar has insisted that the only way to achieve efficiency in our water services is through the establishment of Irish Water.

The Transport Minister today called on the semi-state body to be up and running sooner and dismissed calls for the government to go back to the drawing board.

Mr Varadkar was responding to a report by the Economic Social and Research Institute, which states that Irish Water requires far fewer staff than the 4,000 it is due to take on.

Speaking at the launch of a new Sports facility in Blanchardstown, Mr Varadkar hit out at Green Party leader Eamon Ryan who today called on Irish Water to be scrapped.

"I think Eamon Ryan really doesn't get it at all. The whole point is the 4,000 people working in the 40 authorities that now provide water are already there, we are already paying for them in our taxes," Mr Varadkar said.

"If we don't proceed with Irish water we are stuck with that inefficiency forever. Irish water is the solution. The ESRI report confirms that, that it will deliver savings. The only criticism it does make is that we should do it quicker," he added.

The Fine Gael minister said the 4,000 staff due to be transferred from local authorities are "already in the system". The ESRI report stated that Irish Water only needs 1,700 of these employees.

"Irish Water isn't taking on 4,000 people. These 4,000 people already work in the 40 authorities that currently  provide water. We are already pay for that inefficiency in our taxes.

The solution to that inefficiency is Irish Water. The ESRI report approves of that. It just says we should do Irish Water quicker. So let's get on with it."

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