Irish Water owes €14m in debt interest

Irish Water owes the taxpayer over €14m as a result of interest accrued and fees on a loan from the National Pension Reserve Fund to pay for the controversial installation of meters.

The debt was confirmed by Finance Minister Michael Noonan after a Dáil parliamentary question revealed the original €250m loan had risen to €300m.

Responding to questions from the Fianna Fáil environment spokesman Barry Cowen, Mr Noonan said the money was provided to help Irish Water pay for meters being installed from 2015 to 2019.

He said the deal was made in July 2013, when a €250m “bridging loan facility” was handed over by the reserve fund.

The money, which rose to €300m after a further request this month, was paid over in two parts, at the end of last year and during summer 2014.

It is due to be fully repaid by next September.

However, recent changes to how much money Irish Water can charge the public between now and 2018, and the ongoing refusal by many to sign up to the company, means there is some doubt over whether the funds will be returned.

The revelation over the funds will lead to further anger over how Irish Water has been funded, and the use of the State’s pension reserve fund to help support the setting up of the body.

Earlier this month Environment Minister Alan Kelly announced a drastic Government climbdown on the water charges fees set to hit households from April 1.

Under the measures, a person living by themselves will face a €160 charge and a family €260, with those who sign up to Irish Water receiving a €100 “water conservation grant”.

The measures will be frozen until the end of 2018. While Mr Kelly has said Government will introduce new legislation to prevent any excessive increases after this date, concern remains the charge could rise substantially.

After the climbdown was announced, Irish Water said it still could pursue non-payers through the courts. However, in a further U-turn just a day later, the company said that was no longer an option.

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