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Leave It Grant

It's like installing an iPad, Mary Lou... Just a little more complicated

Joan Burton can’t see why everyone’s making such a fuss about that Irish Water grants letter.

Updated at 1.30pm

THE QUESTIONS LOBBED at Tánaiste Joan Burton in the Dáil today will have come as no surprise to the Labour leader.

RTÉ broke the story this morning of the additional costs being faced by Burton’s department, as officials plan how to administer that €100 household grant for Irish Water customers.

Details of a letter from the Department requesting extra funds for staff, postage costs, advertising, and sundry other outgoings were all over the media this morning — and her junior minister Kevin Humphreys had already been on the radio, pretty much dismissing it as a non-story.

There was nothing unusual about Secretary General Niamh O’Donoghue’s letter her Public Expenditure counterpart asking for more cash, Humphreys said. “I don’t see any excessive costs in this”.

Burton took a similar line with Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen and Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald as she helmed Leaders’ Questions this afternoon — telling the latter, at one point:

I don’t have to tell you. Even if you install an new iPad or some other IT facility in your own home, or in your own office, you know that there’s a period where you actually have to sit down and work out how the new system is going to work.

“That’s what the Department is doing.”

The letter between the two secretaries general was nothing unusual, Burton insisted.

Her Department was doing the “logical thing of setting out a plan” she had earlier told Cowen. ”I think that’s the proper way of doing business.”

We make plans when we have to do changes, and we give the time and the space to actually work out those plans.

cowen Oireachtas / Screengrab Oireachtas / Screengrab / Screengrab

The question of whether or not she had a plan wasn’t really the issue, McDonald insisted. In fact, she commended the Tánaiste for her diligence taking care of “all of that sophisticated paper-pushing that you engage in”.

The Sinn Féin TD wanted to know the final cost of the grant.

Last December, McDonald told Burton, Alan Kelly had gone to “considerable lengths to emphasise that €130 million euro was the final figure”. (The environment minister had told the chamber the grant would cost that amount “based on the best estimate of the analysis by Government” in the course of a long, confusing pre-Christmas debate).

Burton wouldn’t be drawn on any specific figures as she ran out the clock on the topic — although she did make the time for a couple of side swipes at the two main opposition parties.

“Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féín are looking pretty on the plinth,” she observed, smiling — in reference to a rare joint appearance by Micheál Martin and Gerry Adams as they faced reporters yesterday, following their walk-out.

Burton ended the grant debate as she’d begun, essentially insisting ‘there’s nothing to see here — this is what we’re supposed to be doing’.

NOTE: In response to some comments, a note on iPad ‘installation’ from our tech expert, Quinton:  
“When you turn on an iPad or any smartphone/tablet device for the first time, you’re asked to enter in your email and password before you can use it proper. This is referred to as ‘activation’ as Apple/Google/Microsoft notes that a new device is in use and registers it. It’s not an ‘install’ as you’re not adding software to the device, just signing in/creating an account so you can keep your data and app downloads tied to the one account.”

Confirmed: Here’s how much you’ll be paying for water – and what happens if you don’t

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