Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government

General Scheme of the Water Services Separation Bill 2021: Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

Photo of Emer HigginsEmer Higgins (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank all of the witnesses before us today. As we all know, the programme for Government commits to retaining Irish Water in public ownership as a national and stand-alone regulated utility. The first step towards achieving this was the approval and publication of the Government's policy paper on Irish Water, Irish Water - Towards a National, Publicly-Owned, Regulated Water Services Utility. The Minister then wrote to the Workplace Relations Commission to recommence engagement on a framework for the future delivery of water. That is very important.

What we have before us is an approved priority drafted Bill, which goes to show the importance the Government is placing on this. The general scheme is with us and this is a great opportunity for us to have our say and to shape it during pre-legislative scrutiny. The separation of Irish Water from Ervia is a clear commitment in the programme for Government but it also gives us a unique opportunity to increase accountability within the utility and to improve regulatory requirement, especially around auditing. There has been a lot of discussion on that today. I am very pleased the Minister and the Government have prioritised that accountability within this Bill. That is something that we, as a nation, need to strive more towards when it comes to every body, and Irish Water is no different.

I would like for us to be talked through the €5 million set-up cost, the budget and where and how it will be allocated. That would give us a better indication as to how the new utility will be set up for success.


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