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Fianna Fail: Private Members: Motion re Irish Water

Vote from 16/01/2014

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The following motion was moved by Deputy Barry Cowen on Wednesday, 15 January 2014. On Thursday, 16 January 2014 the debate resumed and the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Fergus O'Dowd offered the following amendment:

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Background information

The following motion was moved by Deputy Barry Cowen on Wednesday, 15 January 2014. On Thursday, 16 January 2014 the debate resumed and the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Fergus O'Dowd offered the following amendment:

 "To delete all words after "That Dáil Éireann" and substitute the following: 

  • notes the critical importance of water services to the social and economic well-being of the State and it citizens, and the vital part that a strong water services system plays in attracting

    investment and promoting economic growth;

    welcomes the establishment of Irish Water as one of the largest elements of public sector reform under way in the State and acknowledges the fact that the creation of the utility will bring:

 

  • more investment in the water infrastructure, to address leakages, improve resilience and water quality and expand to meet economic need - doubling the present level of investment within a number of years; and

    a more efficient operation, through use of consolidated asset management systems, IT systems, standard operating practices and availing of economies of scale;

 

  • welcomes the provisions of the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 which precludes the privatisation of Irish Water and will ensure that water services infrastructure remains in public ownership;

    notes that the creation of the national water utility company has many benefits and welcomes the fact that this new approach will facilitate the doubling of capital investment, resulting in better-quality water services and more jobs;

    recognises that a key underpinning of the major programme of water sector reform is the utilisation of expertise within the State sector to the maximum degree possible through

    leveraging Bord Gáis skills and systems and seconding staff from local authorities and the Department;

    acknowledges that the benefits accruing from the initial set-up costs will far outweigh the costs and provide long-term value for money for customers - the Minister has sought the advice of the Commission for Energy Regulation on this matter to validate the position;

    notes the commission's initial view that many of the costs presented to it are likely to be legitimate and will ultimately yield benefits and lower costs for consumers but that the commission is examining this matter further in the context of a fuller review of all of Irish Water's costs over the coming months - in accordance with best regulatory practice, the commission has indicated that it will consult fully on these issues and consider all responses before coming to a conclusion;

    welcomes the extensive efforts made by all stakeholders to ensure that Irish Water was operational from 1 January 2014 and notes in this context:

 

  • the progress on the roll-out of the domestic metering programme being delivered by Irish Water, with some 85,000 meters installed to date;

    the provisions in the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013, which provide a mechanism for funding the past pension service of local authority employees recruited or transferred to Irish Water; and

    the ongoing commitment of local authorities and their employees to ensuring the delivery of quality water services following the making of service level agreements with Irish Water, and notes that these agreements underpin a collaborative arrangement between Irish Water and the local government sector to transform water services in Ireland;

 

  • recognises the need for transparency and accountability from Irish Water in respect of governance and budgets and welcomes the commitment by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to provide that Irish Water will be subject to freedom of information legislation as soon as is practicable."

 The Government amendment was carried by 71:51 with 44 abstentions  

 

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