Council chief executive Tim Lucey said the utility company had made a request for the information some weeks ago and the council provided a list of the names and addresses on March 25.
He said under the Water Services Act, Irish Water was entitled to request such information and he said that the local authority was obliged to hand over tenants’ details.
Some county councillors, however, reacted angrily. Cllr Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire (SF) said he had only been made aware of the situation at a recent meeting between councillors and Irish Water officials.
He inquired if the council had breached the Data Protection Act and if council tenants had been informed by the local authority in advance of their details being passed to Irish Water.
Mr Lucey reiterated: “It is a legal requirement and there is no issue under data protection legislation.”
He said Irish Water was now required to notify tenants that it had access to their information and the local authority would also be writing to tenants to advise about details being handed over.
Cllr Rachel McCarthy said she had recently received assurances to the contrary from the council’s housing department.
The Bandon-based councillor said she was shocked, even more so because she was a local authority tenant herself and was “horrified” she had not been notified in advance.
However, Mr Lucey said the legislation was very specific and there was no need to advise tenants in advance that the council was going to hand over their details.
“We transferred the names and addresses on March 25. It’s our intention that we will notify all our tenants of this, if at all possible, this week and Irish Water will be notifying the tenants as well,” said the chief executive.
Cllr Ó Laoghaire, meanwhile, said he was extremely disappointed at the executive action “especially as people’s faith in Irish Water was low, to say the least”.
He asked Mr Lucey about the policy in relation to future tenants.
Mr Lucey said that once a person was appointed a tenant then the council would hand over their details to Irish Water because, if it didn’t, the local authority itself would end up paying the water bill.
“If there is a change of tenancy we will also inform Irish water, otherwise we would be liable [for the bill],” he said.