At the Kildare County Council meeting on 26th November a number of motions on water charges were debated. These included two tabled by FF, one from SF and one Independent. I proposed a Fianna Fáil led motion to “cease charging for water and instead concentrate on network investment, conservation and infrastructure upgrades” whilst also “condemning bonus culture in Irish Water and seeking a commitment that Irish Water could not be privatised”. The motion was proposed in the names of Cllrs Lawless, O’Loughlin, Ward, Miley and Ó Cearúil. A second motion in the names of Cllrs S Power, R Power, O’Rourke, Callaghan, Doyle and Fitzpatrick was also passed calling on the council to withhold payment of levies to Irish Water until they agreed to come before the council.
Speaking on the motion I stated that both the original and revised packages for water charges completely miss the point that water conservation is supposed to be at the key of any water management policy. The leak rate in Ireland, at 40%, is double the OECD average whilst investment under Irish Water, even after charges, will actually be less than it was under national government previously.
I further stated that the government had created a ‘spinning wheel’ where the charges would just go into salaries and operating costs with zero dividend for the network or any long term improvement. The absence of any conservation or infrastructure investment renders the whole exercise redundant and meant people were being asked to ‘buy a pig in a poke’ by charging for such an inefficient service.
Fellow council colleague Cllr. Paul Ward also spoke on the motion and condemned the money wasted by the firm already. Furthermore, Cllr. Naoise O’Cearuil also outlined his opposition to the proposed model. The motion was put to the floor and passed by a single vote, on 17 votes for, 16 against.