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Fianna Fail criticism of how long water meters will last is 'total ball of smoke' - Tanaiste

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Tanaiste Joan Burton at the 51st BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition at the RDS in Dublin.

Tanaiste Joan Burton at the 51st BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition at the RDS in Dublin.

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Tanaiste Joan Burton at the 51st BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition at the RDS in Dublin.

Tanaiste Joan Burton branded Fianna Fail criticisms around how long water meters will last as a “total ball of smoke”.

During Leaders’ Questions, Ms Burton was responding to media reports that meters which have cost €500m to install will last only 15 years.

Amid tense exchanges, Ms Burton suggested that any meters which need to be replaced would be at very low cost and that many meters could last well beyond the stated 15 year mark.

However, Fianna Fail’s Environment spokesman Barry Cowen, said Ms Burton and her Government “sat idly by” as €85m was spent on consultants.

He described the Government’s handling of Irish Water as a “debacle of monumental proportions.”

“You sat idly by as millions was spent on consultants. That is not a ball of smoke. Don’t tell me the €50m you spend every year is a ball of smoke,” he said sharply.

He added: “I asked you a question but you didn’t answer that, but you are good at that. Don’t tell me the meters will last 20 years or longer. Don’t try and tell me it is a ball of smoke, this has been a debacle of monumental proportions.”

Ms Burton responded by saying Fianna Fail have a nerve to come on a morning when the Governor of the Central bank is in the building telling the very sad story of how Fianna Fail chose to commit €34bn on two failed institutions – Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide.

Ms Burton was also challenged by Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald on commitments made by the Government to provide 5,384 social housing units in 2015.

Ms McDonald said it appears those units will now not be delivered, saying it is “a disgrace”.

“We will be delivering on this commitment, take it from me,” Ms Burton said.

Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan raised the links between drug addiction and homeless, calling on the Government to provide drug free shelters for those affected.

She said that because of moves by Government to deal with homelessness following the death of Jonathan Corrie on Molesworth Street, the government reconfigured a number of shelters which are no longer drug free.

Ms O’Sullivan, who represents the Dublin Central constituency, said the reconfiguration has been “disastrous” as many people who are trying to get clean have relapsed.

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