Local mayor slams Irish Water reform plans

Clare mayor Pat Hayes has criticised plans by the Irish Government to establish Irish Water as an independent state owned subsidiary, arguing water and wastewater services will be affected.

The decision to establish Irish Water as a subsidiary of Bord Gais Eireann and remain in public ownership was announced earlier this week (April 17) as part of the Irish Government’s plans to reform Ireland’s water services.

Backing the decision, minister for the environment, community and local government, Phil Hogan said that reforming Ireland’s water services is necessary to help meet future economic and environmental needs.

However, Mr Hayes says he is concerned that transferring Clare’s water and wastewater assets from Clare Local Authorities will result in a poorer quality of services and could result in job losses for local authority staff.

He said: “We have yet to receive a guarantee from the Government that this same level of service will be delivered to the people of Clare. Furthermore, significant questions exist over what will happen to wastewater scheme contracts that already have been awarded and how they will be managed under the proposed transfer.”

The mayor also argued that as the local authority has invested in land acquisitions and taken out loans to facilitate the development and maintenance of Clare’s water and wastewater infrastructure that it should be reimbursed as part of the transfer deal.

He said: “If Clare’s water and wastewater infrastructure is transferred to Irish Water it is imperative that the funding invested by Clare ratepayers to develop this asset is returned to the County.”

In addition, he called on the Government to clarify whether Irish Water will take responsibility for the repayment of any outstanding loans.

Carys Matthews

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