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Ervia boss: "Even in Greece... they pay for their water services"

Michael McNicholas also said “more could have been done to make the case for payment.”

90363429 Source: RollingNews.ie

THE CEO OF Irish Water’s parent company Ervia has raised doubts over the continued existence of the utility after the next general election.

Addressing the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, Michael McNicholas said Irish Water would not be able to survive without public and political support.

We have put forward a realistic engineering plan that we believe will address these issues sensibly, economically, and in a time-frame that’s acceptable.
And we’re very committed to delivering [our] plan – that’s provided we’re still around after the next election, I should say.

McNicholas, former CEO of wind energy infrastructure company NTR, defended the need for a national water utility, and the establishment of Irish Water, but appeared to criticise the government’s handling of the issue.

In every other OECD country, without exception, water services are paid for partly by funding through the public purse, and partly through water charges levied on businesses and households…
Even in Greece, where they have tremendous issues, they pay for their water services.
However, it has to be recognised that the timing of the move to the introduction of water charges in Ireland was an issue, coming at a time of incredibly austerity…
With hindsight, I think more could have been done to make the case for payment, and the model that was being used…

mcnicholas Ervia CEO Michael McNicholas Source: Donegal County Council

Some blame also fell on Ervia itself, he added:

We could have explained much better how we set up Irish Water in the first place…

McNicholas’ comments came a week after the revelation that fewer than half of Irish Water customers had so far paid their bills.

On Sunday, Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch said a 50% compliance rate would be needed in order for Irish Water to work.

The Ervia CEO echoed these sentiments at the MacGill Summer School last night:

For Irish Water to work, we must have political and public support.
And it’s clear today that not all sections of the public support the concept of a national utility and remain sceptical about it.
And it’s also clear that there are some political voices that are totally dismissive of it.

Read: Revealed – Less than half of Irish Water customers have paid their bills>

Read: ‘Government need a 50% compliance rate’ to make Irish Water work>

About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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