FORMER MINISTER OF the Environment Phil Hogan has said that Irish Water “has seen the test of time” and refused to say whether he had any regrets on the setting up of the semi-state entity.
Irish Water was formally registered as a company in 2013, but the issue of water charges has plagued successive governments since.
After years of public outcry and political wrangling, a final report from the Oireachtas Committee on Water Charges this month recommended that water charges be rolled back with people only charged for excessive usage.
Irish Water is here to stay, however, with householders who waste water eligible to receive a bill from the water utility company in the future.
This comedown from charging all households for water has seen the suspension of water meter installations in houses.
Hogan, who was Minister of the Environment when Irish Water was set up, faced a string of headaches with the various scandals at the company. He is now employed as the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.
Speaking to Yates on Sunday, with Ivan Yates, on Newstalk today, Hogan defended his record on Irish Water, saying that it was essential to set up and that it’s doing a good job.
He said: “All of the various experts including yourself who said that Irish Water was a disaster. It’s still there and it’s doing a good job.”
When Yates put it to Hogan that Irish Water’s revenue base was a “disaster” and “doesn’t exist”, the former minister said the company managed to successfully integrate services across the country. He said:
I’m talking about the entity which is a centralisation of the 34 local authorities. We pooled their work into a centralised agency called Irish Water. Remember Ivan, when I took over the job as Minister for the Environment, we were within six to 12 months of having no water for 250,000 households in Dublin. We had a web summit that you could not guarantee the people that would visit this country would have a shower.
Yates then said that a lot of people see Hogan as the “bogeyman” in Irish Water, and asked him if he had any regrets. Hogan responded:
I think Irish Water has seen the test of time. It has come through the difficulties of any particular organisation that has been established and it’s now able to stand…
The presenter interrupted to ask if he had “not one single regret”, but Hogan said that he would have that conversation in the future, but he wouldn’t have it right now.