IRISH WATER HAS received more criticism today over the €50m it spent on consultants over the last year.
But while Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett of People Before Profit said that it was evidence of more money going to the so-called “golden circle”, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said that Irish Water should be given a chance to explain the spend.
The expenditure has been criticised by Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin as a “scandal waiting to evolve”, while the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said yesterday that the the figure would have to be justified.
Boyd Barrett told Morning Ireland that he has submitted questions on water charges, which he expects will be discussed in the Dáil next week.
He said that that situation with water charges “is really beyond belief” and that “we are going to be charged for our resources through the nose”.
He described it as a “mafia-style heist of one of our most vital resources and pieces of infrastructure”.
Boyd Barrett said that money should be put into fixing the water infrastructure rather than consultants.
He said he anticipates a “huge campaign against water charges” and added “of course I’m going to be part of it”.
When it comes to boycotting the charges, Boyd Barrett said that “if there is a campaign against it to boycott I will not pay it” but that if there is no appetite for a boycott, he would go along with that.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said that “before people criticise Irish water they should understand what they are spending the money on”. He described the response to the consultants spend as “political opportunism”.
“€50m is a very significant figure,” said Coveney. “People without even knowing where that money is being spent, how it is being spent, are jumping on the bandwagon trying to criticise it”.
He added: “We need to understand how that money is being spent”.
Meanwhile, RTÉ reports that the Commission for Energy Regulation is to hold a consultation process on water charges, between April and June.