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It's going to cost €123 million to keep Irish Water afloat due to water charges shortfall

The funding is to last for the period of the water charges suspension up to 2017.

Image: Shutterstock/correct pictures

FUNDING OF €123 million is to be given to Irish Water to shore up the shortfall in funding due to the suspension of water charges.

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney brought a memo to the Cabinet and it was agreed that additional funding of €110 million will be taken from savings made from the suspension of the Water Conservation Grant (the €100 conservation grant was offered to households who registered with the utility).

An additional fund of €13 million is to be drawn from the Local Government Fund.

Suspension

The funding is to last for the period of the water charges suspension which is due to expire at the end of March 2017.

Water charges were one of the key issues negotiated by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as they sought to reach their “confidence and supply” arrangement over the forming of a Fine Gael minority government.

Eventually, it was agreed that the charges would be suspended while they were reviewed by an Expert Commission that is due to report back with recommendations next year.

It’s understood that any future decisions on funding models for the utility will have to be made after the findings have been discussed by a special Oireachtas committee has debated the expert group’s recommendations.

Shortfall in funding

The exact shortfall figure is still unclear, but it is believed to be in the region of €200 million. In May, a briefing document for Minister Coveney put the figure at around €115 million.

The announcement that a subvention is to be given to the utility comes just a week after it was revealed that the national water utility put out a tender to hire a debt collection agency.

Despite an expert commission being established under the programme for government, Fianna Fáil have called for the full abolition of charges.

In an interview with TheJournal.ie, the party education spokesperson Thomas Byrne said the establishment of the commission was a “rigmarole”.

The bills won’t be coming back…water is gone.

Read: Watch: Micheál Martin calls AAA-PBP the ‘pro-Russia alliance’ as Dáil gets angry about Aleppo>

Read: No thanks! Government ministers have turned down a €12k pay rise >

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