Saturday, 11 January 2014

Irish Water

At a special meeting of Dublin City Council in December 2013, Councillors voiced strong criticism of the arrangements to transfer water services from DCC to the super quango, Irish Water. I thank City Councillors from all parties and none for voting for the motion I, as leader of the Fianna Fail group proposed, as follows:
"The elected members of Dublin City Council are extremely concerned about the transition of water services from DCC to Irish Water. Based on the report from the Dublin City Manager we believe this is a very bad deal with considerable risk for Dublin City. We call on the Minister for the Environment to meet with a cross party delegation of Councillors and the Manager to address the issues raised in the Managers report before the services are transitioned."
The Minister and Irish Water treated the elected representatives of the people of Dublin and the staff of Dublin City Council with contempt by refusing to attend the special meeting. The Minister railroaded legislation through the houses of parliament before Christmas which will directly impact Dublin cities commercial competitiveness. The Minister’s plan will not only lead to new water charges for homeowners in the city but also to increased commercial water charges for businesses.  Through his legislation the Minister is dictating the disposal of more than €2billion worth of assets, removing democratic input into the future provision of services, saddling Dublin City Council with €330million pension liability and providing no guarantee that water services will not be sold-off and/or privatised in the future. The City Manager presented a damning report to Councillors that highlighted his serious concerns about the following arrangements:
· Dublin City Commercial Water charges will increase and Dublin City Council will not be able to compensate businesses for the increase

· Dublin City Council is to transfer €2billion of assets without any compensation

· Dublin City Council is to retain €330million pension liability for staff who transfer to Irish Water

· Dublin City Council is unable to recoup the full costs incurred under the Service Level Agreement

· Councillors will have no role in agreeing annual service plans for water services in their area

· The Service Level Agreement is still not agreed, 11 days before the transfer

· For the next 12 years there is no get out option in the Service Level Agreement, no matter how unfavourable it is for DCC

The provision of secure and reliable water supply is critical to the city economy. The Minister’s “plan” is bad news for Dublin and just another blow to Dublin from the Minister.  This whole plan exposes the lie that is Minister Hogan’s promise to “put people first” in reforming local government. In reality the Minister is stripping the people of valuable assets, burdening them with excessive costs, removing from them any democratic in-put into future decisions and preparing water services to be potentially sold-off.  Mary