Unions representing thousands of water workers in local authorities have today (Friday, 24th September) roundly rejected Irish Water’s claims that recent service shortcomings in Dublin and Wexford occurred because of the lack of a single national water utility. The unions were responding to statement from the company that the recent incidents of water contamination proved an “urgent need” for local authority water plants to come under direct Irish Water control. The utility’s managing director, Niall Gleeson made the assertion in media interviews and in a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage yesterday (Thursday, 23rd September).  Fórsa, SIPTU, Connect and Unite representatives have now written to the committee chair, Deputy Steven Matthews, to say they do not accept Mr Gleeson’s assertions.  “We do not accept Irish Water’s view that recent service shortcomings occurred as a result of the absence of a single national water authority,” the letter said. In the letter, the unions also sought the opportunity to make a presentation to the Oireachtas committee as soon as possible.  Union representatives have been in Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) brokered discussions on the Government’s proposal for a single national water authority for well over a year. It is proposed that the national authority would supersede existing ‘service level agreements’ between Irish Water and local authorities.  In the WRC discussions, the Unions have sought movement on four broad strands: The structure and governance of the proposed single water utility. Employment and industrial relations issues that arise from the proposal. The need for a constitutional referendum on public ownership of water services, to assuage fears that the creation of a single authority is a precursor to the eventual privatisation of water services. The future sustainability and revitalisation of local authority services. None of these issues have been resolved at this stage.