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Chairman of Public Accounts Committee slams Irish Water’s “veil of secrecy” as “unacceptable” as bos

Article taken from the Irish Mirror

Irish Water CEO John Tierney is due to face questions at the Dail over spending millions on consultants’ fees and funding

The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, John McGuinness, has weighed in on the Irish Water debacle this morning as boss John Tierney prepares to face a grilling on funding today.

Yesterday it emerged set-up costs for Irish Water will hit €180million , while the semi-State agency insisted environment officials always knew it would need outside expertise after it was claimed Phil Hogan’s department knew for a year that the firm would blow millions on consultants.

And speaking on the Today With Sean O’Rourke programme on RTE Radio One this morning, Mr McGuinness blasted the company over the spending.

“Yes, it’s essential to have all of the systems and so on in place… but was it essential to spend €50m, is it essential to spend a further €30m on consultants?

“That has to be found out. We need to know why that is the case and what we’re actually getting for it.

“We’re being told all of this now by John Tierney and Irish Water and indeed by the minister and the junior minister but yet at the time in 2012 when all of the questions were being asked everyone ducked and dived and did not give the answers – they did not inform the public.

“And remember, every cent that can be saved in terms of waste by the Government would reduce the debt, give better education, maybe we would not tax the elderly as much as they do, maybe we’ll be able to assist mortgage holders and so on.

“That is what is at the centre of this.”

Mr McGuinness encouraged the Government to get to the bottom of the case and damned the “veil of secrecy” around the firm as “unacceptable”.

He said: “If this Government is sincere in its determination to get value for money then change the legislation, open the FoI (Freedom of Information requests), and open parliamentary questions for direct answer by the minister within three days as is the case with everyone else.

“It is unacceptable, the veil of secrecy that remains around Irish Water.

“And it’s only by continued examination of their accounts by the CNAG and publicly by the Public Accounts Committee that that dynamic will change the culture within Irish Water and within the department that is responsible for Irish Water.”

Mr McGuinness spoke about why he thought there was ‘ducking and diving’ by Irish Water and questioned the use of expensive consultants when there were local experts available.

He said: “This is a new company, its a political direction that has been taken by the Government, its a vast amount of money and quite frankly there was loose management within the department in relation to the spend – and the money was not accounted for.”

“How do you think a family that have been refused a medical card because they are €50 over the limit feel this morning? How do you think they feel about the spend of €50m on consultants?

“Money might have been needed to spend on consultants, but did we need to spend that much?

“Why didn’t we tap into the expertise of the local authorities who provided this infrastructure in the first place?

“Why didn’t we tap in to the expertise of (parent company) Bord Gais?”

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