FORMER minister Pat Rabbitte has denied that Irish Water was set up to be privatised insisting that the argument is a "red herring".
Opponents have claimed that the semi-state was set up with a view to being taken into private ownership - to make profit from selling people water - some time in the future.
But Mr Rabbitte (inset), who was a minister at the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources, has denied this saying the supply was critical.
"There is no danger. It's an entire red herring about privatisation of our water services.
"It's enshrined in law and no Government with its head screwed on would seek to privatise something as critical as the water supply," he said. Mr Rabbitte also said that it was time to "more calmly explain why we are embarked on this enterprise".
He added: "This is a huge undertaking to create a public utility that is capable of delivering quality water throughout the entire country," he said.