‘Fine Gael Will Continue To Make The Case For Water Charges’


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Health Minister Leo Varadkar

Health Minister Leo Varadkar spoke to Keelin Shanley on RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke this morning following the announcement that An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission for the new children’s hospital on a campus shared with St James’s Hospital in Dublin.

During their discussion, they talked about Irish Water and Mr Varadkar was asked if he’d like Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny’s job.

Grab a tay…

Leo Varadkar: “The fact that they [Fianna Fáil] went to the wire and threatened an election and not to facilitate a Government on water, I just think is ridiculous..”

Keelin Shanley: “So you think Fianna Fáil’s negotiating point of view is ridiculous – is that what you’re saying?”

Varadkar: “I just, I just think that of all the issues to pick, you know, of all the issues to drive us to the brink of a general election, to threaten not to support a minority government, of all the issues they could have picked like I really  thought maybe they would say, you know, that we insist that Ireland must develop a national health service over the next five years, you must find the 3 or 4 million to do it, you know, you need to drop your promises on the USC – not at all. You know it was all down to water charges that cost €3 a week and the worst thing is, you know, and you know water charges are being suspended – they’re not being abolished – but it’s the wrong thing to do. It’s not in the public interest to do this. And yet this is the issue…”

Shanley: “So why are you doing it? Were you not able to stand up to them on it?”

Varadkar: “Well we haven’t, what we did stand up to, we said we wouldn’t give up on the principle of a national utility, we don’t think Irish Water should be broke back and everything sent back to 30-something local authorities, I don’t think even deep down Fianna Faáil believes that that’s a good idea even though that was their policy. And on water charges what we’ve agreed is a suspension for nine months and during that period we will continue to make the case in favour of water charges. And I’m in favour of water charges. I was in favour of them in 2011 and I was in favour of them in this general election and I always told me that this is the right thing they should do and they should pay those and I keep saying that. There’s two reasons: one because it’s the only way people will conserve water, it should be metered and it should be charged for it. And secondly, we actually need a dedicated stream of income to upgrade our water and sewerage services, to get rid of boil notices, to get rid of the situation where we’re still putting sewage into our rivers and our seas. And it’s a real disappointment to me that that Fianna Fáil wants us to go back on water and like it was actually Fianna Fáil in 2010 that started this, before the Troika arrived, they can’t even blame the Troika.”


Varadkar: “Maybe we will have to fight an election sooner rather than later, I’d actually rather we fight an election on those things [economy, housing] then on the issue of water. I just think that would have been a nonsense. I actually think that the people would have been very annoyed about it and would have been, ‘a plague on all your houses’.”

Shanley: “So you think everyone would have done badly out of an election on water. What was your thinking for Fine Gael going to the electorate on the basis of water. You know your option there was either an election or give way on water.”

Varadkar: “Yeah I just, I just think it would have been insane to have an election on Irish Water.”

Shanley: “Would you have lost further seats do you believe?”

Varadkar: “Possibly I don’t know, possibly not, it’s impossible to judge that but like I say, we have an opportunity now to form a minority government it’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be difficult and it’s going to be different but, you know, Government’s really tough but it can also give you the opportunity to do wonderful things and things like the Children’s Hospital are exactly why you do all the bad days because there are great days too and you can only do that when you’re in Government.”


Shanley: “Will he [Enda Kenny] lead the party into the next election?”

Varadkar: “Well, he’s already said that he won’t.”

Shanley: “Are you interested in the job?”

Varadkar: “Ask me when the vacancy arises. I’m down on so many other things but, like I say, that’s not for today.”

Shanley: “Ok, Minister Leo Varadkar thank you very much indeed for coming out to us this morning.”

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63 thoughts on “‘Fine Gael Will Continue To Make The Case For Water Charges’

  1. Tish Mahorey

    The underlying issue for most people is that Water should not be privatised. If that can be guaranteed then a lot of the heat will be taken out of this debate.

    The conservation argument is being hijacked by Fine Gael to push for the monetization of water treatment and supply. They are already in the pockets of merchant banks who want all public utilities turned into private revenue streams instead of public ones.

    This is all about the ideology of privatisation – moving money from public ownership to private speculators and the interest industry.

    Some things work great when privatised but some don’t. Public water and health should always be owned and administered by the Government for the people.

    1. Polaroid Fluid

      nonsense, nobody wants to pay water or taxes or waste disposal, the tracksuit brigade couldn’t care less about privatisation, they could hardly spell it nevermind understand ideology, don’t make the protesters more erudite than they actually are, you’re only going to be disappointed.

      1. ethereal

        jeez aren’t you going to be terribly disappointed when you discover the majority of the protesters are smarter than you

      2. Tish Mahorey

        Polaroid. You’re like the old bullyboy Blueshirt element of Fine Gael. The lower level knuckle dragger who thought we were part of the established class but were merely the muscle for real brains.

        1. Broadsheet Spawned A Monster

          There’s a pair of you in it. Also and Despite the condescension there’s a valid point there in the angle Polaroid puts forward.

    2. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

      I agree, but I’d change the last line to ‘…should always be owned by and administered for the people by the Government.
      Apart from that, yeah. Nicely put.

    3. Bruncvik

      Personally, I think the priority should be for whoever ends up processing the payments to get their act together. I paid the first bill and have yet to pay the other two because they keep sending me bills for the wrong amount, still didn’t register me for the government grant despite me registering for water and paying the first bill in time, and at best take over a month to reply to my complaints (3 out of 4 letters went completely unanswered). So even those of us who are willing to pay can’t do so. And in fact, if there was a profit motive behind Irish Water, I’d expect better better service.

      1. martco

        thanks I missed this
        I’m still amazed at how some people I discuss this are reluctant to deal with what’s really afoot here…even now with all the time that has passed and the obvious visible linkages I’ll still get plenty of conspiracy theory this or denial that retorts or even worse the someone who shrugs their shoulders and it doesn’t remotely bother them…maybe some are just eventually numbed into submission?

      2. Rob_G

        That might be interesting and relevant if anyone was making a case for privatising water; to the best of my knowledge, no-one is.

        (apart from Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland, but they tend not to mention that down here).

        1. 15 cents

          well id say the fact that its been privatised in every other country is a good indication. its literally a business createed by governments to sell to their cohorts. also when u consider that whenever our government try to inflict something new upon us they always say “every other country does it”, so id imagine theyd follow suit. in italy and spain leaders opposed it, and were soon ousted under rather sinister circumstances and replaced by leaders who forced water charges thru. most of the water issue here is us trying to not be taken for even more of a ride by foreign business.

          1. Broadsheet Spawned A Monster

            Yes but it’s also because we are absolutely crap at – a) paying for public services and b) providing quality public services. Today for example a boy’s parents were awarded 3.5 million and an apology by Crumlin Children’s Hospital- a crushing example of publicly owned mediocrity

      3. Broadsheet Spawned A Monster

        Emerging markets :)

        Nice try but this article doesn’t prove anything. Ireland’s water system is a disgrace and that was under public ownership.

    4. Sheik Yahbouti

      Absolutely right, Tish, but to acknowledge that people aren’t children and would contribute for water PROVIDED that privatisation was totally off the menu doesn’t suit the agenda. It would require the admission by FF. fg and lab that privatisation was the goal all along and that they blatantly and persistently lied to us about it.

  2. DubLoony

    FG have thrown their former TD colleagues under a bus, not to mention Labour, in order to stay in power.
    If FF win, its ’77 again, and any hope of good governance happening in next few years, well, forget about it.

    Stupid, short sighted, party first.

    1. some old queen

      FG attempted to railroad the formation of a utility company which most suspect was a trojan horse for privatisation. The last time I seen anything like that was the poll tax in Britain. Now they have had received a serious political blowback. Tough sh|t.

      If Governance is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented then in what way was this FG/Labour charade GOOD governance? Stupid, short sighted, party first. I totally agree. On both sides.

      This is way too an important issue to even be in the political domain. But, it has to be paid for so the only way forward is a cross party committee which oversees the funding model, upgrade and access to EU funding.

  3. fmong

    “of all the issues they could have picked like I really thought maybe they would say, you know, that we insist that Ireland must develop a national health service over the next five years, you must find the 3 or 4 million to do it, you know, you need to drop your promises on the USC”

    Translation: We were fupping so bad on so many things, why did they pick water??

    Leo knows exactly why they picked water, FG would have privatised IW in 5 years and have probably made promises to the IMF and potential buyers to that end..

  4. Rompsky

    I absolutely agree with what he’s saying here. It’s amazing that paying for water is being made the most important issue in Ireland today. There are so many other things to fix but we’re stuck on water… If this is the way we’re starting then a minority government won’t be lasting very long

    1. 15 cents

      “so many other things to fix” .. these things were either created or exasberated by FG over their tenure. and its only now theyre sayin “ah why focus on water? we need to fix these other problems” .. but they wont .. they didnt while in government, is all they did was try shove irish water down our throats, with no intention of fixing anything else. the country fell apart around them while is all they focused on was stripping the country of its assets and giving them away for pittance to foreign investors. FG are the absolute worst.

  5. brownbull

    the worst thing about all of this is that I have found myself agreeing with Alan Kelly yesterday, and now Varadkar today, I feel dirty and disgusting make it stop

      1. Broadsheet Spawned A Monster

        So do you actually Parents Poohole. You were the one I read passionately arguing for the sustenance of the class system based on lineage and what your narrow definition of good breeding is last week. You’re as big a poo hole as any of the aforementioned

  6. dav

    as if we needed any further confirmation of how enda kenny is a liar, we have the added bonus of knowing that the blushirts are nothing more than ff’s bi@tch

    1. jack johnson

      That’s how utterly removed from reality they are – along with their useful idiots here

  7. Alex Francis

    “a plague on all your houses” – he actually said that. Like some kind of evil witch

  8. 15 cents

    FG keep saying that FF are focusing on water when they should be focusing on housing, health etc. . . yet all those other more important issues, were created or worsened by FG over the last 5 years. It’s actually FG who care more about keeping water charges than anything else, or they would’ve fixed those problems.

  9. Jess

    “You know it was all down to water charges that cost €3 a week”

    Stop lying, its not €3 a week. Its €3 a week at the capped charge, a temporary capped charge introduced to get people to sign up, that doesn’t even cover the cost of administration of said charge and that will shoot up into what is likely to be hundreds of Euro if the metered bills are to be believed. The truth is that we don’t know how much they will cost and would you sign up to broadband or any other service without knowing how much you need to budget for it?

    And lets not forget the 100s of million of our money they have already sunk into the Irish water gravy train. Keeping up this €3 a week nonsense is just insulting

    1. martco

      also noticed how the oul percentage of compliance is creeping up and up (yeah right)
      every media interview one of the spinning ()ks undertakes…..58% seems to have become mid 70’s now

  10. bisted

    …Morning Ireland also had a woman from Engineers Ireland on talking about water this morning…imagine…an engineer interfering in the water debate…and a woman at that!

    1. martco

      yeah Pat Kenny had her in a couple of weeks ago on RadiO’Brien, she’s totally pro-commoditisation, had to turn off it was that obvious

      1. Broadsheet Spawned A Monster

        Oh he’s very clever alright he even had the women engineers fooled now. If you had a brain cell it would be lonesome

    2. Nigel

      There’s an engineer from Irish Water I’ve heard on the radio a few times, though not recently, and he’s brilliant, talking about all the long, long term plans from fixing and improving the water infrastructure. It’d make you cry to hear him, knowing how much the whole thing is fecked to a cocked hat, but there’s at least this one guy who knows what needs to be done and everything that’s happening is going to get in the way of him achieving it.

      1. some old queen

        That “engineer” is Jerry Grant and he is now the acting head of Irish Water. He should be on the stage… scrubbing it.

          1. some old queen

            There are plenty of people within Irish water who were attracted for the right reasons. I expect most of them were uncomfortable with the arrogant incompetence which led to this civil unrest.

            I also expect that there are also a number of ex Veolia employees in residence.

  11. some old queen

    I know that politicians have a number of bullet points which they repeat ad nauseam but the variations of ‘I’m in favour of water charges’ really is grating now. There are very few people who want something for nothing but plenty who object to being fleeced when they feel they have already paid.

    One of two things must happen. Either it is all by general taxation or none of it is. If none then with a reduction in the indirect taxes, a single water charge for all services. If anyone wants to cut costs then they can request a meter.

    No fudge, one or the other.

  12. Advertising On Police Cars

    Leo is like an Irish version of Hillary Clinton, full of sound bites and a casual observer, the way he “managed the department of Health ” was a joke, he acted like a spectator “tut tutting” but doing NOTHING. Vile man. He aches for the Top job with absolutely nothing to show for it.

  13. Kieran NYC

    Ironic that the same people complaining about saddling children and future generations with the debt from the bank bailout are perfectly willing to dump the inevitable gigantic investment required to save water infrastructure when it crumbles in 30 years on them.

    1. Broadsheet Spawned A Monster

      Yes because the two issues are directly comparable. You truly don’t have a single brain cell to bless itself with and if you had it would be very lonesome

        1. Broadsheet Spawned A Monster

          The only meltdown we see here is you you sad little troll tuning in aimlessly from far across the sea pining for the old country and their corrupt blueshirts

  14. Nigel

    You can make a case for water charges, it’s just a pity that Irish Water is indefensible.

  15. Truth in the News

    Once upon a time he did sound bites only on Sunday, he presides over the worst
    public health service in Europe, which he did nothing to sort out, then he cuts the mental health budget and goes on the radio to extoll the virtues of water tax after his
    party and his coaltion partner are wiped out, and then goes begging for support
    to sustain him in his trappins of office, in effect he is a “washout”.

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