Irish Water calls are ‘intimidation’

Anti-Irish Water campaigners have claimed the utility’s plan to cold call customers over unpaid bills is a “desperate” form of “intimidation” aimed solely at increasing its “embarrassing” payment numbers.

The Right2Water organisation and opposition parties issued the response despite Irish Water insisting the calls are simply to advise customers they risk potentially high bills if they continue to ignore the charges.

Under moves confirmed after a damaging month for the utility, which has seen it fail key financial independence tests and receive just 46% of payments, Irish Water last week began calling customers to remind them of their unpaid bills.

In a series of interviews yesterday, spokeswoman Elizabeth Arnett said the development was a “normal” process for every type of service provider “when there are outstanding bills”.

Ms Arnett said the utility “will be contacting customers to remind them that the bill is outstanding and to offer a payment plan”.

However, despite the explanation, those opposed to Irish Water said it is simply an attempt to bully people into refusing to pay the charges.

“This is just a form of intimidation because the non-payment figures are at such an embarrassing level,” said union umbrella group Right2Water spokesman David Gibney.

Hitting out at the “nonsense” argument that calls are being made due to “concerns” over the potential level of future bills facing customers, he said “the reality is this is more about them being concerned about their numbers”.

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy mirrored the comments, saying “it is a reality Irish Water is almost dead” and the calls are a “desperate” bid to entice people “to throw their money away”.

Figures released by Irish Water in mid-July, after weeks of delays, showed 46% of people signed up to pay charges in the first three-month billing period, accounting for less than half of the €66.8m income expected.

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