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Row between Irish Water and meter installers could be settled in court, says Tánaiste

Firms contracted to install the meters on behalf of the beleaguered semi-state have submitted a raft of claims seeking extra cash.

TÁNAISTE JOAN BURTON says a row between Irish Water and regional metering contractors could ultimately be decided in the courts, if a solution’s not found during mediation.

The Social Protection Minister insisted there was nothing unusual about the dispute between the parties, referring to it as a “bog standard feature of our contracting industry”.

RTÉ’s This Week revealed this afternoon that companies contracted to install the meters on behalf of the beleaguered semi-state had submitted a raft of claims seeking extra cash from the utility.

The Radio 1 programme reported that regional contractors had come across thousands of wrong-sized junction boxes, as well as other problems – and that they were contending significant differences had been found between the initial scope for the jobs, laid out in their contracts, and the ground conditions they encountered.

Extra costs have been incurred as a result, the contractors are claiming.

It’s reported Irish Water and the regional contractors have already started a mediation process.

“Anybody who’s ever built an extension to their house will be familiar with that process – that any minor change, not to mention major changes, are charged for by the contractors once the contract is under way,” Burton told reporters at an event in Dublin this afternoon.

It’s a standard feature of Irish contracting.

Asked whether Irish Water should ‘pay up’ the Labour leader re-iterated that, speaking generally, claims are examined to see whether they’re “fair or reasonable”. 

If it’s not, it’s refused. If there’s a dispute between the parties the norm is to get a mediator or failing mediation to go to court.

“We see that happening all the time in the Irish contracting industry.”

Read: Joan v Mary Lou: That mooted one-on-one debate won’t be happening anytime soon

Read: Those reduced water charges the government promised have been approved

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Daragh Brophy

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