Tánaiste dismisses claims of 15-year replacement for water meters

Concern that water meters will have to be replaced within 15 years have been dismissed as a "ball of smoke" by Tánaiste Joan Burton.

The Labour leader insisted that many of the devices would last “long beyond” that timeframe and when they did need to be upgraded it would cost €50 each and take “five minutes”.

Meanwhile, Cork North Central TD Jonathan O’Brien said rent caps imposed by the Government meant his recovering addict brother could not afford private accommodation and had to live in hostels where people took drugs.

“I have a brother who is homeless. He is a recovering heroin addict who cannot get accommodation because of the cap on rent allowance. He has been forced to go back into a hostel where drug taking happens in front of him,” the TD said.

When a Labour TD suggested his family should take him in, Mr O’Brien told him to “shut his mouth”.

Earlier, the Tánaiste had accused Fianna Fáil’s environment spokesman Barry Cowen of trying to whip-up controversy on the issue because he wanted to use “anything and everything”to “denigrate” Irish Water workers.

Terse Dáil exchanges saw Mr Cowen insist that the Government was wasting hundreds of millions of euro on Irish Water when hundreds of patients were left on hospital trolleys due to lack of beds.

“Meanwhile, back at the ranch you and Irish Water are spending €500m on 1.2m meters that may only have a lifespan of 10 years,” Mr Cowen said.

Mr Cowen said the Labour leader bore personal responsibility for the way Irish Water wasted money because Ms Burton was in Cabinet when the utility was being discussed, but had: “Sat idly by not knowing what was going on around her.” Ms Burton hit back saying that Irish Water was needed in order to generate the investment needed to repair the country’s leak-laden supply system.

Ms Burton said the experience in other countries showed that meters often lasted much longer than 15 years. Branding Mr Cowen’s concerns a “total ball of smoke”, the Tánaiste told him: ”Your concern ought to be with clean water for the people of the country.”

The Labour leader also came under fire from Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald who accused the Government of being unable to live up to its promise to build 5,384 social housing units.

The Tánaiste admitted the Government had set itself an ambitious target, but said: “Take it from me deputy, we will be delivering.”


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