Fine Gael TD for Dublin Fingal, Alan Farrell, has strongly criticised Fianna Fáil and its Environment Spokesperson, Barry Cowen, after he launched a stinging attack on the CER, an agency Fianna Fáil created.
“I was taken aback by Barry Cowen’s criticism of the CER today, an agency created by Fianna Fáil while in government. Deputy Cowen spoke of ‘the deep public suspicion of the CER’ and accused the agency of having ‘a poor track record in representing the best interest of the people’.
“It is a cheap shot for a politician to try to target a respected independent body in order to score political points. His politically motivated criticism of the CER ignores the inconvenient fact that his Party created the CER while in government and routinely stood by the agency. Indeed Barry Cowen’s former party leader, Brian Cowen, was at pains to point out the independence of the CER during a Dáil debate in 2008.
“In addition, Deputy Cowen misinformed the public today when he claimed that water for children will not be free when it will. His efforts to sew doubt about the €100 concession being provided to people on who receive the Household Benefits Package are a blatant attempt to scare hard pressed families.
“Fianna Fáil’s blatant hypocrisy in relation to water charges is not limited to today’s sorry tirade by Deputy Cowen. Fianna Fáil has consistently criticised the proposed average water charge of €240, verified today by the CER. However it is compromised by the fact that the Party agreed with the EU/IMF that it would transfer water services provision to a water utility with a view to start charging in 2012 at an average annual charge of €400 per household.
“It is nauseating to see the party that inflicted so much economic hardship on Irish people assume the role of consumer protector. The Party’s now discredited water charges website spearheaded by Barry Cowen was a political stunt masquerading as a consumer website.
“The calculations on the website assume that the water consumption of a child is the same as the water consumption of an adult. This inflates and distorts their figures for water charges for average families. Furthermore additional affordability measures to assist pensioners, persons with disabilities, and carers who receive the Household Benefits Package were also omitted from Fianna Fáil’s calculations.
“Fianna Fáil’s efforts to play the role of the people’s guardian in relation to issue of water charges are doomed to fail because they are compromised by glaring double standards.”