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Hogan: 'See? Investing in water services IS an investment in jobs'

The Environment Minister has welcomed a €1.7 billion investment in Irish Water.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

A NEW PLAN to overhaul water services in Ireland will see up to 15,000 jobs created for the duration of the programme, the Minister for the Environment has said.

Phil Hogan welcomed the planned investment of €1.7 billion by Irish Water which will see leaks tackled and the elimination of boil notices in some areas.

“I have said time and time again,” he said in a statement last night.

“An investment in water services is an investment in jobs.”

“It will also assist in providing for much needed serviced zoned land to assist in attracting businesses and the supply of much needed housing in every county throughout the state,” Minister Hogan added.

In Irish Water’s proposed Capital Investment Plan for 2014 to 2016, which it published today, it has prioritised investment to where it can “deliver the most urgently needed improvements”.

It proposes to deliver or progress over 380 projects under the plan, which has been submitted to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) for consideration.

Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson Barry Cowen raised concerns yesterday over the recent water allowances announced by Irish Water.

Cowen noted that a free allowance will only be granted if customers “pay their bills in a timely manner”.

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“There appears to be absolutely no tolerance for households that cannot pay their bills immediately,” he noted, noting that people struggling to pay bills may not be able to pay the water charge on top of it all.

Speaking today, Cowen hit out at Hogan’s “PR offensive”, saying that the new “investment spin collapses under even basic scrutiny”.

He said the €1.77 billion that Irish Water and the government has been “trumpeting” in the media is nothing more than the existing level of capital investment and well short of what is needed to bring the system to the standard it should be before people are asked to contribute more money.

“This highly questionable presentation will do nothing to address people’s concerns about what is happening in our water sector and raises questions about how Irish Water is being used,” he said. “As recently as yesterday we were being told that Irish Water couldn’t confirm the basic cost of a litre of water for consumers, yet this morning, they are being used to sell a bogus election story of bonanza investment.”

Read: Irish Water’s €1.77bn plan to make Ireland’s water services better >

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Nicky Ryan

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