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Fianna Fáil plan to replace Irish Water has €9.1m redundancy package for workers

A Sinn Féin TD has called for an independent commission to be set up to see what should replace the utility.

Image: Shutterstock/nikkytok

FIANNA FÁIL’S PROPOSAL to scrap Irish Water and replace it with a new system includes a €9.1 million voluntary redundancy package for workers.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week, the party’s public expenditure spokesperson Seán Fleming said no compulsory redundancies would be made. Irish Water employs about 650 people directly and 3,500 people indirectly.

Fleming said some staff would transfer to the new agency or redeploy to parent company Ervia or a local authority, while those who choose to avail of the voluntary redundancy package would receive up to nine weeks pay and a statutory redundancy figure.

He said the contracts of people employed indirectly through call centres will be honoured, noting the plan would likely not be completed until 2018.

On the same programme, newly-elected Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin called for an independent commission on water services to be set up to consider what should replace Irish Water and “design the best possible model of public ownership”.

I would be very surprised if any body of experts would come back saying Irish Water is the best possible model. I don’t think that scenario is likely.

Fleming said the proposal for an independent commission “is the most extraordinary statement I’ve heard in the last month from anybody”, claiming it was at odds with Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty, who called for a Dáil debate and vote on the abolition of water charges during the week.

On the issue of redundancies, Ó Broin said they would be highly likely.

SIPTU Organiser Adrian Kane told This Week the organisation has informed the company it will not accept any forced redundancies and is “fighting to retain every single job that currently exists in Irish Water”.

Brendan Ogle of Unite trade union and Right2Water said more workers are likely to be needed to rebuild the country’s water infrastructure system.

Coalition

Fleming said his party is negotiating to create a minority government led by Fianna Fáil with Micheál Martin as Taoiseach. He said this may be possible with support from independent TDs and smaller parties.

He stated that the only other option is a Fine Gael-led minority government.

“The people of Ireland voted for change”, he said, adding that the public “want a different way of doing business” and “no big power bloc” in the Dáil.

He played down talk of a potential coalition with Fine Gael saying there has been “no phone call from Enda Kenny yet”.

Read: FactCheck: Can water charges really be abolished?

Read: Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil almost neck and neck in latest opinion poll

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Órla Ryan

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