‘They Have Free Water In Many, Many Cities In Ireland’


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Denis O’Brien speaking on Bloomberg earlier today

Denis O’Brien did an interview with Bloomberg earlier this morning in which he talked about Digicel, the IPO which didn’t happen, Google and Facebook.

Towards the end of his interview, Mr O’Brien spoke about Irish Water.

Presenter: “A final question and this goes away from telecom, Google and Facebook, what are your views on the delays of forming an Irish Government?”

Denis O’Brien: “Well, it has been fraught, it hasn’t worked out as well as it should. I think the Government were wrong to back down on the water, Irish Water. You know they, it was the right thing, all the infrastructure is Victorian for the supply of water in Ireland, people have a lot of, they have free water in many, many cities in Ireland so it… they gave up on that and set up a commission to evaluate what they should do with Irish Water so that’s kicked in the air and down the field whereas it should have actually stayed. And the investment, you know, there’s an investment programme of between €3bn and €4bn that was supposed to go into that – that now is under question.”

Presenter: “So what parties would you like to see in power?”

O’Brien: “Well I really don’t care who’s in power but I think there needs to be stability in Ireland, I would have a concern if there’s a lack of stability that will affect foreign direct investment and, you know, it’s a time in Europe where there’s a lot of unsettling things that are happening. You’ve got Brexit, you’ve got immigration, you’ve got a very polarised Europe…”

Watch the interview in full here

Irish Billionaire O’Brien Says Government Water Climbdown Wrong (Bloomberg)

Irish Billionaire O’Brien Holding Off on Digicel IPO for Now (Bloomberg)

Preview: Denis O’Brien And THAT Siteserv Deal

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80 thoughts on “‘They Have Free Water In Many, Many Cities In Ireland’

  1. dav

    can’t wait to see the final bill for water meter installation, followed by the tender for water meter removal

  2. Tish Mahorey

    No Denis, we pay for our water through taxation. It’s not free.

    And interesting commonality between your terminology and that of Fine Gael’s.

    And no, you won’t be getting Irish Water for Christmas.

    1. Paps

      We obv. didn’t pay enough of it through taxation and everyone paid the same no matter what their usage was. Water is an important resource and shouldn’t be paid out of a big pot of taxation. Users should be held accountable and water conservation and management should be encouraged. We also “paid” for the large amount of clean potable water lost to a broken network.

      1. ahjayzis

        Some families use it more than others, it’s an important service, shouldn’t be paid out of a big pot of taxations, students and their families should be held accountable and resources rationed and managed, so we need to introduce user charges for primary school places.

          1. ahjayzis

            Can you point to anyone who declined to contribute facing any sanction or hubbub?

          2. Cloud9

            About 60% pay in my area. A relatively prosperous one too. I believe that’s about average.

          3. ahjayzis

            No they don’t – where’s your evidence for that?

            And what’s your argument? That we formalise it into an actual legal charge?

          4. pedeyw

            Actually the father of a friend of mine didn’t pay on principle. He said a public comp school should be free and refused it. He manage to still get 3 kids through.

          5. ReproBertie

            My argument is that your analogy is flawed because schools, call it whatever they like, charge for usage.

          6. ahjayzis

            No, they don’t. They have voluntary contributions which are voluntary and not a user charge which is mandatory. Are you arguing that Irish Water invite us to donate?

          7. ReproBertie

            No. My argument is that your analogy is flawed because schools, call it whatever they like, charge for usage. That’s it. There’s no need to try and read anything more into it.

          8. ahjayzis

            Sigh… Yes, ReproBertie, of course they do.

            Just our free to access museums with their donation bin at the door charge through the nose for admission.

        1. Cluster

          The point is that there is no agreed concept of ‘too much education’ or ‘too much necessary healthcare’. That’s why it’s different than a raw resource like water.

      2. Tish Mahorey

        I didn’t say I object to paying for water. I agree with a fair fee that everyone can afford. I object to privatisation which is an entirely different issue.

        What he said was misleading. We do not get water for free.

        1. RobD

          I’m certainly not against paying for water… I am however against paying for a natural resource utility which is being setup to get sold when the countries economy is driven over a cliff again.

    2. Sheik Yahbouti

      Tish, no doubt at all that Mr Redacted ‘s PR and Legal people are always at Indah’s disposal. Very important that everyone sticks to the script.

  3. ahjayzis

    They give out free or nearly-free multi-million pound licenses and companies too, I hear. And your debts magically reduce by government agency fiat.

    Truly, a marvellous, wondrous place.

  4. newsjustin

    It is free, in that there is no price attached to the usage of water. One may use as much as you like in your home and never have to pay a cent more. Recipe for wastage, poor planning and water infrastructure starved of funding.

    1. Mourinho

      Sick of this “starved of funding” argument.

      All the money collected goes into one big pot and gets divided out as any government sees fit.
      If the infrastructure is poor it’s because successive governments decided not to spend much on it for the last 20 years.

      I agree that what is free. is abused, but that makes no difference to how the money was spent.

      1. ahjayzis

        Water is not abused any more than it is in Britain, where there are meters and charges.

      2. Nigel

        Setting up Irish Water was a corrective to the tendency to neglect hugely important but invisible infrastructure. Believe it or not the worst outcome of this is not millions wasted (which appears to be business as usual for all governments – Jesus, whenIi think of the voting machines fiasco and the Garda computer system debacle i see red at the idea of Fianna Fail pontificating about the state of IW)- it’s that the infrastructure is not repaired.

          1. Disasta

            Yeah, just since Irish water was magicked into existence these things happened.
            Years of planning go into these, are you stupid or something?

          2. Vote Rep #1

            The water notice was going on for 7 years. That is some impressive planning that went into it.

        1. some old queen

          The removal of the Red Cow roundabout was an amazing tribute to Irish engineering but roads were sexy and pipes not. First we had FF who ignored, then FG who got carried away with their own importance and now, a collective realisation that they have both pushed it too far.

          Is there EU finding available for water? 100% certain.

          Why isn’t it being mentioned in the Irish Media? No idea.

    2. ahjayzis

      Yet 50% of the water escapes through leaks, so we in actuality produce 50% more than we need and Irish people use pretty much the same amount of water per capita as the Brits, who are charged, and half as much as the French, who are charged.


      If we have a water crisis in Ireland it’s not the domestic user who’s dropped the ball.

      1. Otis

        If 50% escapes through leaks, then we’re producing 100% more than we need.


  5. ReproBertie

    Do we even have many, many cities in Ireland? To my knowledge only Dubln, Waterford, Cork, Kilkenny, Galway and Limerick are classed as cities.

      1. ReproBertie

        True but Derry is not under the jurisdiction of the government so not really relevant to the IW discussion. The same is true of Belfast and Newry.

  6. Jimmy 2 tones

    Seems the media are interviewing all the vested interested parties these days. Kelly for his brother & o brien for his greasy hands.

    1. Nigel

      What probably annoys people is the capacity of so many in public life, whether politics or business, to so easily say the right thing and so inevitably do the wrong thing.

      1. Tony

        Why should business people or politicians behave any differently to everyone else. Serious question.

        1. Nigel

          I’m sure they would be delighted for everyone to accept the premise of your question, that everyone behaves that way, because that sort of thing helps generate the necessary moral apathy that allows them to keep operating in this fashion.

  7. ForFecksSake

    No mention by Bloomberg that he has vested interest and profited from water meters?! Great journalism.

  8. Anne


    I listened to the full interview there. He doesn’t come across as particularly intelligent or articulate I have to say.. but that’s not to be expected I suppose just because someone has become particularly wealthy by whatever means.

    About min 4:30 there.. He thinks the likes of google and facebook should be making payments out of their profits to the telcos because he says “we’ve laid the trail lines, we’re increasing dramatically the capacity of the networks and these guys are coming into our house having a party and not contributing in any way, not contributing any drink or food or anything else and making off” lol what a goon.

    He’d know all about ‘making off’ as he puts it.

    He says they’ve invested in an Israeli company called Shine.. they’ve put ad blocking technology on all of their mobile networks (I presume that company specialises in that technology..he doesn’t say… he’s not the best communicator going) He goes onto say it’s great for the consumer.

    Presumably he wouldn’t give a tuppenny fupp about the consumer seeing the ads from Google and facebook if google and facebook were paying him a fee.

    1. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

      He doesn’t come across as particularly intelligent or articulate I have to say

      – neither do you

    2. Clampers Outside!

      I hear ya Anne, he boils mine too.

      On the telecos getting a cut of profits made via mobile device targeted advertising, it’s a thing, a big deal, and on mainland Europe is about to be done (or has been demanded a deal be struck) by one of the big telcos… Can’t recall which one…

      1. Anne

        Well he wants a bigger slice of the pie no doubt about it.. but he doesn’t give a tuppenny fupp about the consumer and as soon as he’s getting his cut from the likes of facebook and google (when they bring some food n drink to the party as he puts it.. you couldn’t be throwing a party and putting on the food and drink for the guests at all like), you can be sure the ad blockers will be gone..

    3. ahjayzis

      Since the Telco’s use the nation’s roads to service their lines and customers and make a mint, and only pay the same corpo tax as everyone else – did he just make the argument that we should toll them for the privilege?

      1. Anne

        Yep.. they’ve invested in the infrastructure he says… so it’s his road and he’s blocking it.

  9. 15 cents

    what is it when irish do interviews in foreign countries? they lose the run of themselves completely, they think no ones listening and they come out with all sorts of rubbish, with little or no thought. a real kinda “ah jaysus look, between you n me ..” this guy is a real piece of work. pig ignorant fupper.

  10. Steve

    Awful stink of conflict of interest.

    Did his advisers not “advise” him that it wouldn’t be a good time to give Bloomberg a thought piece on the current Irish water situation ??

  11. Ivor


    But I thought Dinny O’Redacted was a patriot? One of us surely? Doesn’t he turn up to all of our national games wearing a green scarf? I know, I know, there’s that whole Malta thing, but I think we all know that Dinny is one of us.

    Clearly, Broadsheet have messed up the transcription.


  12. Truth in the News

    Dennis never disclosed that a company connected with him had the contract to install meter paid for
    from motor vehicle tax, anyways he don’t pay much personal tax in Ireland, isn’t he a tax exile, yet he
    controls a raft of business interests in Ireland….of what concern is Irish Water to him, was he hoping to
    take it over…..is it this which has got him so upset…..with whats coming down the line he will be a lot
    more peeved…..he would be well advised not to take on the ordinary people, Kenny and Burton found
    out to their cost in February and so did the British 100 years ago.

  13. some old queen

    The fact that GMC Sierra were awarded the meter reading contract for half the country would not have influenced Mr O’Brien’s opinion on water charges in any way, shape or form.

    An honorable man like him?

    Surely not.

  14. FortyCoats

    “there’s a lot of unsettling things that are happening. You’ve got Brexit, you’ve got immigration”

    Evidently he has no problem with immigration in Malta.

  15. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

    These things don’t just happen ‘by accident’.
    Our friend and benefactor’s questions and answers will always be scripted.

    It doesn’t matter what you or I think about his method, his manner or his mental capability.
    The message wasn’t aimed at us.

      1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

        Aimed at his pals mildred.
        -Reminding them about who pays their wages, or might in the future, etc.

        (I’m obviously talking about Ray D’Arcy here, and he’s lovely too.)

      2. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

        It was a necessary reminder on someone’s part to remind them of who’s the actual boss.

        If it wasn’t Ray D’Arcy it was that other bloke, Ian Dumpcartsy.
        Someone who works for puppets…
        -I’m no good at names.

        I’m most likely wrong again.

        You can’t blame the government when you haven’t got one, can you?
        -And if you can’t blame the government…

        1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

          Sorry, I slipped into retrogression there for a moment.
          I just want to say that I love Zig ‘n’ Zag, Podge ‘n’ Rodge, Zippy and Dustin The Builder.

          I still have that song in me head…

          Dustin The Builder…
          Can we fix it?
          -Yes we can!

          It’s mad catchy.
          -Sung by that bloke out of ‘Only Fools And Horses’.
          -The guy who played ‘Dave’.

        2. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

          Oh yeah, I nearly forgot…
          That Ray O’Brien fella or whatever his name is…
          …Dermot De La Arsey…
          …Not Ray D’Arcy, he’s cool(ish), I mean…
          …the hand of Bosco…(Sorry, that’s too scarey. I should NOT have said that!)

          -The Hand.
          That’s what I call him.

          You know what I mean.
          Not something human.

          It makes me so angry I could almost risk mentioning his name.
          -Neither should you.

          Our day will come, and never too fast.
          But it will.

          1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

            Have you had a stroke recently?
            -Would you like one?

            adapted from Phil Lynott, but not worthy of Him. I beg your forgivness.

  16. Murtles

    My argument all along was prior to Irish Water I was paying for my water through public services funding to local county councils out of my contributions from my Motor Tax payments and also from VAT. Since neither my Motor Tax was reduced and VAT remained the same % but yet I was billed by IW, in my opinion I was being asked to pay twice.

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