This Was “Not About Politics”


Freedom of Information documents obtained by Ken Foxe relating to the documentary The Story of Water, produced by Irish Water

Ken Foxe writes:

The brand of Irish Water had been “badly damaged” and continually “politicised” and the level of public trust & confidence in the company was low, according to creative brief for €800,000 TV documentary ‘The Story of Water‘ that they planned to produce.

Budget for the project had originally allowed for a spend of up to €2million.

This included €942,000 for the documentary itself, which proved cheaper to make (see below).

Also included is a fee for either RTÉ or Virgin to broadcast it … this ended up costing just €1.

This was not “about politics”, “charges or meters”, the brief stated, but instead about ‘educating the Irish public about the size & scale of problems facing Ireland’s water network’.

The documentary was to follow Irish Water’s ‘Tone of Voice’: this being ‘honest and respectful, clear and straight talking, approachable and reliable, experienced and professional’.

The target audience was broken up into four key demographics: advocates, supporters, dissenters and detractors.

Public trust and confidence in Irish Water was tracking at 44%. There was a very low awareness of size and scale of issues faced. And there was a low openness to hearing about future plans & work

The board of Irish Water were told it was time to “shape the conversation” and “move it away from bills and meters”.

The Documentary would help “bust” the ‘fairy story that surrounds Ireland’s water supply and the idea that it is endless’.

The documentary ended up costing just over €800,000, about €137k below the production budget “due to efficiencies”.

Seven in ten people who watched it felt “more confident that Irish Water have projects and plans … underway to address the issues raised”

Good times.

The Story Of Water (Irish Water)

Right To Know

Ken Foxe

15 thoughts on “This Was “Not About Politics”

      1. GiggidyGoo

        Not imaginary according to to EU at the time.
        And the data also was to be stored outside of Europe. Your PPS No., Your date of birth, your Bank Account details.

  1. Spud

    I’m surprised more wasn’t said about this at the time.
    It was just a PR ad pushed as a documentary.
    That’s some budget too. Perhaps another documentary on where the IW budget goes exactly?

  2. James T Russell

    The idea that the public should pay for services is disgusting, the very reason governments were invented was to look after the people.

  3. broadbag

    You don’t usually hire an agency when making a documentary, unless it’s propaganda, or you have a spare quarter of a million of someone else’s money to throw down the drain, or both!

    Absurd sums of money being wasted, whoever the agency and production company were must have been laughing all the way to the bank.

    1. Riz

      “You don’t usually hire an agency when making a documentary”

      If you are a government appointed body that looks after the nation’s water infrastructure rather than making documentaries every day then you do.

      I’ve worked on many PR exercises such as this. That’s a pretty standard budget. Margin for the agency would be about 20-25% of the cost. Same for the production company.

      These kinds of stories are silly – the only people who don’t get upset by it are the people who work in the industries listed on the budget summary/RFC document. Everyone else gets their knickers in a twist because they see 7 digits on the bottom line.

      There’s plenty more relevant and current wastes of money you could be getting upset about instead of some doco brief (“propaganda” – don’t make me laugh ) from 2018.

  4. fFs

    “The brand of Irish Water had been “badly damaged” … and struggles to have an identity that is separate and distinct from the government” fFs It didn’t exist until it was created by the Government, it’s little more than an ill-advised move on the Government’s part to distance itself from providing public services. fFs bullsh*t at the highest level is all it’s ever been about

  5. Pat

    I saw this and thought it was pretty good. Very slick visuals and no propaganda at all just facts. Mad budget though

      1. GiggidyGoo

        A plebiscite is not legally binding. A referendum is what is needed. And quickly before it is gifted to a Malteaser.

        1. Michael O'Sullivan

          What’s legally binding is that ownership can’t be changed without a proposal to do so is won in a plebescite

  6. Truth in the News

    Irish Water is dead and all that’s needed is to fire whole outfit, who would tolerate
    the expenditure of 2 million on propaganda,

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