Irish Water and the Fine Gael Environment Minister Eoghan Murphy are a disgrace. They are presiding over one of the most incompetent events in recent Irish history.
50,000 people in the surrounding area of Drogheda and East Meath have been left without water supplies for a week. If it were not for a huge voluntary effort, there would be a serious risk to human life and health.
The pipe, which burst in Drogheda, was over fifty years old. Last year, it burst and Irish Water knew there was a serious problem. But they did nothing and waited until it burst again.
Then, as water was spilling out, they sent to Belfast for a new piece of piping to be constructed.
Why, did they not order this spare part a year ago? Why have they done little to repair fifty-year-old infrastructure that is already creaking?
Eoghan Murphy says that ‘Irish Water is working well’ and does not see the problem.
So let’s spell it out.
Irish Water has been more interested in installing meters than in fixing pipes. They have spent over €600 million on a water metering programme and were projected to spend another €200 million.
Then, bizarrely, they ordered a type of meter that had to be replaced every five years. The replacement programme was scheduled to cost €50 million a year.
The long term purpose of Irish Water – before a mass movement of people power stopped them in their tracks – was to privatise the water supply and to follow the British example.
In order to do this they started to treat the people of Ireland as ‘customers’. But this involved another waste of money that should have been used to fix infrastructure.
Postage costs for bills were to cost €6 million a year. Legal costs were to run to €5 million. Call centre and debt agency costs were coming in at €54 million a year.
Then, there were the consultants. These managed to run up fees of €90 million.
If the nearly €1 billion in metering and other costs had been invested in fixing faulty pipes, the Drogheda disaster would not have happened.
Irish Water is an agency with a mindset of resentment against a people who refused to pay water charges. They think that they can use crises like Drogheda to attack the Right2 Water movement. They are backed up by their allies in the mainstream media who now pretend that those who refused to pay charges are responsible for the lack of investment.
This is a blatant lie. The reality is that the state cut its investment in water supply from €435 million in 2011 to €296 million in 2014 – a 32 percent reduction. They wanted the people to fund that cut through new charges while they diverted public money into the ‘re-capitalisation of banks’.
We need to invest in water supplies and a number of steps are required
- Disband Irish Water and create a National Water Body that is focused on repairing the infrastructure.
- End all payments to metering companies and use the money for fixing pipes.
- Stop wasting public money helping Apple fight a case to prevent us getting hold of the €19 billion they owe. Take the money and invest it public works - like fixing water supplies.