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Irish Water won't say why the latest payment figures still aren't ready for publication

One TD has accused them of getting involved in party politics in an “unacceptable” way.

90356452 (1) Source: RollingNews.ie

IRISH WATER IS offering no explanation as to why it has delayed publishing payment rates for the first quarter of 2016, as one TD accuses them of “involving themselves in party political politics”.

The utility published figures for the fourth quarter of 2015 on 14 January, for the third quarter on 22 October, and for the second quarter (and the first billing cycle after charges were introduced) on 15 July last year.

Today marks 28 days since the end of the first quarter of 2016, and almost a week after the latest previous date for publishing payment rates.

A spokesperson for the utility claimed that information was still being collated and would be published at a later date.

However, the spokesperson confirmed that there had been no technical problems with the collation of the data and nothing in the process had been any different from any previous quarter.

When pressed on why, therefore, completing collation of the figures, and publishing them had taken at least two weeks longer than last quarter, the spokesperson did not offer a reason.

Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty condemned the delay, and told TheJournal.ie Irish Water is trying to save the acting government from embarrassment, and playing party politics in an “unacceptable” manner.

They were able to produce the [previous quarter's] figures in the second weekend of January, and given the fact that it would have been compiled over New Year’s and the Christmas holiday, there’s a genuine expectation that they should have been able to produce them within that time frame, if not sooner, this time.
It’s very clear that Irish Water have involved themselves in party political politics.
There’s no other explanation than that they have not presented the figures because it would have shown to the public – to the embarrassment of the acting government – that Irish Water is dead and buried, in reality, because of the number of people who would have cancelled their subscriptions.
They’re doing it for political reasons, and they have no duty, no mandate to actually do that. They have a responsibility to the public, which funds Irish Water…to be transparent with their figures.

He added, “It is not acceptable for any commercial agency.”

Irish Water was invited to respond to these allegations, but did not.

‘Baseless claims’

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

It also refused to confirm or deny Minister Alan Kelly’s claim that the utility had shared mid-cycle payment rates with him.

On yesterday’s RTE Six One News, Kelly had this exchange with Bryan Dobson:

Kelly: The payment rate was coming up to 70%, after the election. So, the majority of them [Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael voters] did pay it.
Dobson: Those are figures you’ve had from Irish water?
Kelly: Yes, as we were coming up to the election, they were coming up to just under 70%.

And earlier, the Environment Minister told the Dáil:

Irish Water reported to me that, during the election, the payment rate actually increased, and while not all of that was collected, it was likely that a payment rate of just under 70% was likely.

In the past, Irish Water has refused to share mid-billing cycle payment rates with elected politicians and the media, including this website.

When asked to comment, a spokesperson for the utility would neither confirm nor deny that they had provided Minister Kelly payment rates before the end of the billing cycle, saying only that Irish Water was “in regular contact with the department”.

However, AAA-PBP TD Paul Murphy, who has previously had high-profile difficulties in obtaining information from Irish Water, told TheJournal.ie:

[Minister Kelly's] baseless claims simply re-enforce his image as Comical Kelly. If there were figures indicating 70% payment, Irish Water would have released them. Instead they are suppressing them.
His self-proclaimed legacy of water charges is crumbling around him because of mass non-payment, and yet he is still trying to talk up the fiasco of Irish Water and water charges.

TheJournal.ie requested comment from a spokesperson for Alan Kelly, but did not receive a response.

Read: There has been a sharp rise in Irish Water cancellations since the general election>

Read: Alan Kelly says future generations will “rue” the proposed Irish Water deal>

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Dan MacGuill

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