Earlier this week Eurostat ruled that State funds spent on Irish Water will have to stay on the exchequer balance sheet. Minister Noonan himself has described this as “embarrassing” and “controversial” for the Government but it is more than just embarrassing and controversial, it is a matter of national importance with serious implications for the budget deficit and for investment in services for many years to come.At a press conference today in Leinster House today Senator Gerard Craughwell said that the Seanad should be recalled to debate Irish Water as a matter of urgency so that the people can hear directly from the Taoiseach or Minister Noonan and Minister Kelly what steps the Government is going to take to address the serious implications of the recent Eurostat ruling on the fledgling utility .
Senator Craughwell believes that the most appropriate place for any debate on Irish Water to take place is in the Houses of the Oireachtas. He said that it was a very long time until the 23rd of September when the Seanad is due to sit again but the people of this country, who have seen the writing on the wall about the commercial viability of Irish Water and who have marched the streets of this country, deserve answers. The Seanad has been recalled in the past for other important issues but few he believes more important than the future of Irish Water, particularly in the light of the embarrassing rejection of the Government’s position by Eurostat. Today he delivered a letter to the Cathaoirleach to request a recall under standing order 22 (2) with the confirmed support of 24 of his colleagues, almost a half of all Senators including members of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Fein and Renua along with other Independents. Senator Craughwell feels that a number of issues warrant the recall including the failure of Irish Water to pass the Eurostat Market Corporation Test and the implications of this for the exchequer balance sheet for the future. He also believes that for a very long time there has been a lack of public confidence both in the utility and in the Minister's capacity to manage it particularly given the number of U-turns and changes in directions. He believes that a Seanad debate on Irish Water "will provide the Taoiseach and the Minister with an opportunity to address the concerns of the public on all matters relating to Irish Water in the most appropriate place".