“Irish Water is behaving like a company that is afraid of its customers, like they can’t trust them and have to frighten the into being their customers.”
This was the reaction of Thomas Pringle, TD to news that a Letterkenny based official in the Dept. of Social Protection objected to Irish Water requesting the children’s PPS numbers and details of child benefit recipients.
In correspondence obtained by The Irish Times, Tony Kiernan of the Child Benefit section, wrote “I have serious reservations about providing a wide-ranging data dump as I believe we will be dealing with a lot of fallout and get into arguments that have nothing to do with our schemes. This is without even considering the data protection implications of such an approach.”
In July, he expressed concern that Irish Water was advertising that information packs would be sent to households in September but the company had not engaged with the department. He told Irish Water’s customer services manager Mike Cody that it would have been “good manners” to have notified the deparment of its plan to issue 20,000 water forms in September, as it might have an impact on their offices.
Deputy Pringle said “Irish Water’s heavy handed approach goes back to the success of the anti-household charge and property tax campaigns. The company, and the Government, are afraid of the people.
“I think the idea of asking for PPS numbers and Child Benefit details was to give the impression that the charges would be deducted from wages by the Revenue and from benefits by the relevant departments.”
He estimated that “around 60,000” took part in the Right2Water protest in Dublin, not 30,000 or 100,000, as has been reported. He based this on the fact that three sides of Merrion Square were filled with people, while another queue stretched from the GPO, over O’Connell Bridge and into Westmoreland Street.
Right2Water agreed to a garda request to march to Merrion Square instead of Kildare Street “for safety reasons because of the numbers,” he said.
However, the huge number of gardaí at the protest was “a massive over reaction to an angry but good natured protest” and “another attempt to demonise the protestors”, he added.