Water Cooler



Further to reports this morning that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil discussed changes to Irish Water – including it becoming a State agency – last night…

Paul Melia, of the Irish Independent, Brian Dowling, of RTÉ’s political staff, and Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy spoke to Keelin Shanley on Today with Seán O’Rourke.

Mr Murphy raised questions about Irish Water and their non-release of payment figures for the first quarter of this year.

Paul Murphy: “We haven’t an explanation for why Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have colluded in the Dáil since the election to avoid any discussion of water charges on the floor of the Dáil. We’re now in the fifth sitting and we still haven’t discussed them. We’re also owed an explanation for why Irish Water, which has been acting in a very overtly political manner with its legal opinion paid for by the taxpayer and now not releasing the payment figures – that are due at this stage – for the bills that went out for the first quarter of this year that, in my opinion, based on very strong anecdotal evidence, will show a significant increase from the levels from 50% non-payment that we saw in the last quarter of last year.”

Keelin Shanley: “In fairness, we’ve been in touch with Irish Water. They say an update on the first year of billing will be made available once all payment information is collated. They’re certainly not saying they’re delaying it…”

Murphy: “I’m sure they’re not saying they’re delaying it but I believe that they are suppressing it. All the bills would have been due for payment by the end of last month. It was on the 14th of January that the last payment figures were released. We’re now on the 20th of April.”

Shanley: “So you’re basically saying…”

Murphy: “That’s not accidental..”

Shanley: “…you think that people have stopped paying their water bills since this new uncertainty around Irish Water has emerged?”

Murphy: “I do, I obviously don’t have the figures and I think even when Irish Water release the figures, they’ll release it in a such a way to create the impression that still loads of people are paying. But 50% didn’t pay the bill for last quarter of last year and I think it’s likely to be higher.”

Listen back in full here

44 thoughts on “Water Cooler

  1. Tish Mahorey

    State Agency
    No chance of privatisation
    Generous water allowance
    Reasonable metered charge for heavy usage

    That’s a solution in my mind.

    1. Stephen Fagan

      We use less water, on average, than the UK, who ARE metered. I don’t think there is any need for metering. We have an abundance of it in this country. General taxation, public ownership, single state utility, for me!

      1. classter

        Do you have a source showing that domestic households in Ireland use less water then the UK?

        1. Steve

          Incorrect. The vast vast majority of UK don’t have meters. Charges are based on the rateable value of a domestic property. That said we do have lower consumption for the average 3-4 person household.




          One conclusion that could be drawn from this is that water meters in Ireland incentivise lower usage.

        1. Vote Rep #1

          Tbf, if it is put to a referendum and the people vote to sell, then it should be sold. That said, the people are never going to vote to sell it so…..

        2. Tish Mahorey

          “No. Semi State. Can be sold from a plebiscite.”

          No, it’s a Limited Company and can be sold without any public vote.

  2. Jimmy 2 tones

    See what people power can do against the corrupt. Stay together, fight the corrupt power.

  3. DubLoony

    Why does this clown delight in pulling something down without actually proposing any specific detailed solutions to what would replace it?

    We have a sub-standard water infrastructure due to years of neglect. We have people on boil water notices for years, raw sewage flowing out to sea, septic tanks leaking into rivers and no word from him on those very real problems.
    It needs to be sorted out. Potable water conservation is part of that. People will be paying a very modest amount for it. Its a miserable €160 a year.

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      If we thought motor tax went on road-maintenance it would be paid with less complaints too.

      1. classter

        Motor tax does not even nearly cover the costs that road users impose on the rest of society.

        It is worht repeatign this over & over again.

        1. Finbarr Murphy

          This could be true. How about VAT on cars, fuel, tyres, income tax collected from mechanics and car sales people, VAT on vehicle advertising, excise duty on cars and fuel, VAT on vehicle maintenance, excise VAT on car insurance, insurance levies, etc, etc, ad nausseum…..

    2. Stephen Fagan

      Dub, the Right2Water policy is readily available online. Public ownership,, through general taxation,single utility. Not too hard to see that funding for water infrastructure was deliberately reduced to sell this idea that water be moved to private hands.

      Also, 160 a year, if everyone paid it, would only cover the cost of collecting the charge. I don’t know about you but I believe that an essential for life shouldn’t be used to create private capital.

        1. Clampers Outside!

          If the right2water crowd moved away from the speculative ramblings and stuck to just facts, of which there are plenty to convince, then they’d get more support. I stopped going to marches when I realised I was surrounded by idiots who were just saying ‘NO’ to everything.

          I too want IW in state hands and secured in the constitution from privatisation.

          1. 15 cents

            you’re so derogatory of the ‘mob’ who ‘mobbed’ together and effectively saved you and everyone else a wallop of money. didnt figure you to be one to buy into the demonising of anti-water protesters.

          2. Clampers Outside!

            @15cents…. I too was part of that ‘mob’ who ‘mobbed’ together, thank you.

            And nothing more or new has been achieved since I and many others stopped attending marches, btw.

          3. 15 cents

            yea i know, and you said you stopped marching because there were ‘idiots who just say no to everything’ there .. you shouldnt abandon something you’re fighting for/against because you dont like some of the other people who are doing it also. and more has been achieved, if everyone stopped when you stopped we’d all be starin at bills right now. its the fact that numbers kept up that the gov. are realising its not somethin we will give up on. i say bite yer lip and get back out there with the rest of us. never mind whos standin either side of you. do it for you if no one else.

        2. Tish Mahorey

          That’s how it’s done Clampers. You really are far too trusting of Government. You really are.

          1. Clampers Outside!

            It was reduced to appease the mob of anti-water protesters. Not to convince people to be cool with privatisation.
            That’s the only point i was making in that comment.

      1. DubLoony

        One more time Water Services Act 2014, section 2 provides for a plebiscite in the case where change of ownership is considered:


        It is currently in public ownership.
        It is currently a single utility.
        There will be individual charges based on water use as an incentive to conserve potable water.
        It is also a mechanism to allow for the water utility to obtain funding from the markets, the exact same way ESB does, that will be used to invest in infrastructure.

        Irish Water does need an overhaul, not saying its perfect by any means. I wouldn’t embed it as it is currently structured in the constitution.
        Water does need to be affordable. If people can’t pay, then the issue is poverty. That is what needs to be addressed.

    3. Jimmy 2 tones

      This “clown” is actually standing up for the majority of people in this country for all levels of society. This “clown” is actually trying to create a fair society that does not only create corrupt money for the greedy elite rich. And in case you ask I’ve got no problem paying for water as long as it’s not privatised & metered & set up by a corrupt business like Irish water.

      1. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

        @ jimmy

        that “clown” is some anonymous fool writing on the internet – don’t take it to heart

      2. Serf

        He’s not standing up for me. This “clown” is just using this as a crass vehicle for his own political agenda.

        I still have no idea why anyone would object to metering (for excessive use)?

      3. DubLoony

        Paying for water, in addition to a free allocation, is a fair way to deal with it.
        The only way to measure it is to meter it. And it also finds out where the leaks are so they can be fixed.

        If you have a mansion with 5 bathrooms and a swimming pool, why should you pay the same as someone who has a 1 bathroom, 1 kitchen?

  4. Finbarr Murphy

    In the recent general election more people voted for candidates opposed to the continuation of Irish Water than those who supported the continuation of Irish Water.
    Apparently the reason for establishing Irish Water as a semi state utility was to keep it’s borrowings off the state balance sheet.
    Now that Eurostat has ruled that this cannot be done, then the main reason behind the establishment of a semi state body has vanished and therefore it should be abolished and replaced with a state agency like the IDA or Enterprise Ireland or HIQA or TII.

    The argument about sewage and clean water is perhaps not relevant: to this particular debate: it is acccepted that we need to invest in our water infrastructure. But establishing a semi state company which then spends hundreds of thousands of euro (€317,000 on PR) is not necessary as it merely creates more waste.

    Finally: much has been made about the establishment of Irish Water as being akin to the establishment of the ESB. In my view there is one major difference: when the ESB was established there was NO electricity infrastructure.
    When Irish Water was established there was (admittedly an out dated, underfunded, crumbling) water infrastructure. Spending millions of tax payers money on a semi state body which will duplicate the effort of many local authorities is against the will of the majority of the electorate who voted six weeks ago in support of candidates who proposed the abolition of Irish Water and no longer makes any sense.

    1. Steve

      Does it make sense to have 31 ESB’s where local investment decisions are politically motivated.

      1. Finbarr Murphy

        One state agency, the NRA, oversaw the construction of a national roads network which was delivered by local authorities.

        It includes some tolling and the tolls are paid proportionally by those who use them the most.

        But they didn’t need to borrow hundreds of millions of euro “off balance sheet” to fund the project. They used public private partnerships where necessary, and existing taxes which were aready being collected by local authorities and central government.

        In the process they built motorways from Dublin to Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Belfast.

        To be honest, Stephen Donnelly made a good point about Irish Water: “It’s like spending a fortune building a sign which says “Please Do Not Throw Stones At Ths Sign,”

        And being against the idealogically driven “New Era” fiasco that is Irish Water does not mean that one is automatically in favour of raw sewerage flowing into our rivers and lakes, no matter what €317,000 of public money spent on PR agencies says.

        There is another, better way.

        1. Clampers Outside!

          I’m not sure your toll roads analogy works.

          There are tolls being continued on roads that have been paid for…. which is no different than charging extra for water to make a profit.

          1. Finbarr Murphy

            That was just a reference to the way the state delivered good quality modern infrastructure by merely using a state agency, (the nra) and not a fully functional semi state company, (Irish Water), there are bound to be differences in the execution, I was just presenting an example of how a single unitary national state agency worked with a large number of local authorities who had failed over a long period of time to deliver infrastructure projects on a national scale.

            I’m not an expert in any of this, I am merel trying to generate proper discussion, and I take your points regarding the tolling,

    2. DubLoony

      Local authorities as a whole have failed in their responsibility to provide potable water and manage waste water removal.

    1. Kieran NYC

      Who doesn’t seem to want to fix the Irish Water problem by attempting to form a government. He just wants to keep using it to get reelected.

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