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Economic Management Council Meetings (Continued)

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 861 No. 1

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  7 o’clock

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny We must get this right.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin This is more of the Taoiseach's dishonesty.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Deputy's party put the Irish people first in line to suffer economically when it introduced the bank guarantee.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is not true.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Yes, it is true.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin No. Fine Gael voted for it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is now changed.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin What about the October Paris statement?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Irish people are now first in line to benefit from anything-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Taoiseach is a hypocrite.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----that might come from the liquidation of the IBRC.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin He voted for the bank guarantee.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan The Deputy introduced it when he was in government.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Taoiseach voted for it as Leader of the Opposition.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The next thing is this.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It borders on the unbelievable.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Martin also made the point-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I think the bank guarantee was the right thing to do, by the way. It had to be done.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----that €500 million has been spent on water meters.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Taoiseach thinks the same.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Why does the Deputy want to walk away from it now?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Water meters will deal with two issues - conservation and the determination of leaks.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is not going to happen. They do not determine leaks.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Deputy never wants to listen.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan He cannot remember either.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I have to say I have learned about this myself. It is very important to listen.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Taoiseach is not listening.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny When a water meter is installed, it is easy to determine whether there is a leak inside the house or between the meter and the house. The more leaks that are determined, the less treated water is wasted and, therefore, the less cost there is in having to produce it. When the country has been metered, obviously it will be very easy to determine the output from reservoirs and the input and throughput through houses. The system will work effectively. Any good plumber will say that when he or she is doing a job on a house.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin They have told me the opposite.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The establishment of Irish Water cost approximately €170 million. That has been saved on the-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Stop the raiméis.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----restructuring of the tender-----

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien That money has not even been spent yet.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----and the restructuring at Ringsend.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin This has nothing to do with it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Yes, it does.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Deputy Martin was in favour of it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Order, please.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The realignment-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Stop.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----of the upgrading of the Galway plant saves €100,000 a month.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Taoiseach is taking the people for fools.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is about time the Deputy began to look at the bigger picture, for example with regard to what we will have to do in the next 15 to 20 years. How will Dublin city be supplied with water?

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Taoiseach has not told anybody that.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Is it going to come down through Poulaphouca and Ballymore Eustace?

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin He has told no one anything.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Does the Deputy think that if Dublin city expands by another 50,000 or 60,000 people-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Those plans are there anyway.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----there will be enough water to deal with that?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan He does not know.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Order, please.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Martin's party allowed a situation in which nothing was done with this country's piping system for 50 years. Is the Deputy aware that there are pipes in this city that are caked inside and the bore is less than two inches when it should be much more than that? All of that has to be replaced. More than 1 million people are on a knife edge with an inadequate water supply. While the establishment of the Irish Water entity was certainly not without its controversies, it was-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is an understatement

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----the right thing to do in the interests of conservation. If we are to have an effective system, we need to be able to fix what is wrong and to invest for the future. That is what it is about. The Deputy strayed from the question of the Economic Management Council and its constitutionality-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin No, I did not. The Economic Management Council voted for that money.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----to the question of water and water meters.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Economic Management Council took the decisions on water.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I just thought the Deputy should know those things. The next time he is talking to a good plumber in Cork, he will be told that the value of having a meter is that it allows people to know what they are using and what they are losing.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin They cannot even read them.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny That allows them to be fixed and investment to be made for the future.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett If the Economic Management Council has a function, I presume it is to try to set out the economic priorities of this Government, to look at value for money when it comes to big projects and to decide the broad parameters of raising revenue and collecting taxes. I expect that the four senior members of the Government - the Taoiseach and the other three Ministers - come up with recommendations and argue in favour of them at Cabinet meetings. I imagine that is broadly how it works. I would say that the members of the Economic Management Council get their way most of the time within the broad parameters of economic priorities, tax policy and the big headline issues in terms of expenditure. It is very relevant to ask how the Economic Management Council got it so wrong in this case. The evidence that it got it so wrong has been manifest on the streets in recent weeks as people have reacted to the budget, the broad parameters of which were undoubtedly set out by the Economic Management Council.

I do not doubt - the Taoiseach can correct me if I am wrong - that the Economic Management Council must have discussed the response to the unprecedented popular protest after the budget, particularly on the issue of water charges. The proposals announced by the Minister, Deputy Kelly, were drawn up in response to the unprecedented outrage of the people of this country who told the Government that it got this wrong, that it was not listening to them, that it did not understand their needs and priorities and that they fundamentally disagreed with it on the issue of water charges and the whole Irish Water project. It is very relevant to ask how the Economic Management Council got it so wrong. Does it not prove that it is a dysfunctional entity? It is not the way to go about framing policy and making decisions on the key economic issues facing the people of this country. That is the lesson. There is much speculation about how many people will be on the streets tomorrow. I can tell the Taoiseach that it is going to be massive. Any illusion he may have had that-----

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon Will there be 1 million people there?

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett There will be a minimum of 50,000 people there. It will be probably be a hell of a lot bigger than that.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan I thought the organisers were talking about 150,000 people.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I remind the Deputies that tomorrow is a weekday. It will be probably be a lot bigger than that. For that to happen on a weekday, after the Economic Management Council has signed off on the package I have mentioned, will be an enormous vote of no confidence in the Government and the Economic Management Council, both of which have failed to understand what the people of this country are saying about water charges and more generally about the Government's economic priorities and tax policies. That is what is being said. It will be said again in the most unequivocal terms. Is it not time for the Taoiseach to step back? I absolutely guarantee him that this is what will happen tomorrow. I wonder what his reaction will be. Will he have the humility to say "we got it wrong and we are going to listen"?

I have to make a further comment on the whole issue of value for money and metering, etc. I do not know who is writing this spin for the Taoiseach. If he wants to talk to a plumber about metering, conservation and value for money, he will be told that district meters are a much cheaper and more effective way of ascertaining whether there are major leaks out of pipes in any particular area.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan That is not true.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It is true.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan It is rubbish.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I did not ask Deputy Durkan.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It is true.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan It is not true.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Other technicalities are associated with domestic meters.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Has the Taoiseach discussed district meters? Plumbers and people who work in the water infrastructure system tell me-----

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan You cannot detect individual leaks with district meters.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I did not ask you, Bernard.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan This is rubbish.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett People who have worked in the water infrastructure system for decades have told me that just one district meter, rather than hundreds of meters, could cover all the households in an estate or a local area.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Will they show where the leak is?

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett They can be used to determine how much water is going into that locality.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan I did it before.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett The Deputy does not want to hear this because it drives a coach and horses through the Government's argument.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan I lived with it.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Will you please ask him to shut up, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I ask Deputy Boyd Barrett to conclude. I am sure the Taoiseach wants to answer the question.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan I am sorry, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. The Deputy was making a Second Stage speech.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett They know what the average usage for a household is. If it exceeds the amount of water going into a particular area, they can work it out.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan That is not true.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett By the way, it measures the amount of water in the pipes going into the area, rather than the amount of water between the meter and the household. It is more effective. A much smaller number of meters is needed. It is much cheaper. Did the Economic Management Council discuss things like that? Can the Taoiseach confirm that Siemens offered to do the whole thing much more cheaply? I understand it offered to do it for free. I have a big question. What was the procedure for giving the contract for the metering to GMC Sierra? Were all the procedures complied with fully? Some serious questions need to be asked about the process of tendering this out. Did it fully comply with the protocols for outsourcing these things? It appears that there were cheaper offers. I am not in favour of metering at all, but it seems that there was a ready-up in terms of who was going to get the contract.


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