O’Dowd calls on utility chief to quit as opposition to charges grows

The former minister who oversaw the setting up of Irish Water has called for the boss of the under-fire company to resign.

His comments come as several Coalition TDs yesterday pushed for a delay on water meters coming into operation amid concerns about mounting opposition to the new charging regime.

Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd revealed that he pressed the Government to delay the roll-out of charges until most meters were in homes. Only a third of homes have meters installed.

Speaking to RTÉ, he called for Irish Water managing director John Tierney to go. “I think Mr Tierney should step aside,” he told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.

Mr O’Dowd helped establish Irish Water during his time with the Department of the Environment. Earlier this month he said the company was an unmitigated disaster, was arrogant and had failed.

He denied he was undermining Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s recent expression of confidence in Mr Tierney.

Separately, during a Dáil debate on Irish Water, Government TDs called for the flat rate assessed charge for homes to be extended beyond next summer. TDs suggested that meter readings should be delayed until more of the machines were installed around in homes.

Fine Gael’s Sean Kyne said: “There should be a flat rate payment until such time as all meters are installed and people can get used to conserving water.”

Party colleague Anthony Lawlor agreed: “Until people can believe that a world-class delivery of water service will be available, they should not be paying on the meter for water but on the basis of an assessed charge.”

Labour’s Derek Nolan said the level of anger on the streets of Galway was “absolutely off the scale”. Mr Nolan added that there was concern about high payments families will face where adult children are still at home.

Party colleague and former minister Joe Costello said Irish Water had “no credibility at present”.

Independent TD Richard Boyd Barrett claimed that Irish Water would charge people for harvesting rainwater and running it out of their property as waste water through sewers.

The energy regulator said this would not be the case and that only water coming ito a house was measured.

However, Irish Water refused to answer queries about why its terms say customers must tell it if run-off water is going into a sewer.


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