Barry Cowen calls for honesty on Irish Water

Admissions by Fine Gael’s chief whip that the Government behaved in an “underhand” way over a Seanad nomination has provoked demands for ministers to be more honest.

Fianna Fáil environment spokesman Barry Cowen TD said the Government should now come clean over its handling of Irish Water.

Fine Gael chief whip Paul Kehoe has admitted to the Irish Examiner that the Government had made a string of “stupid mistakes” in 2014, including what he called “underhand” moves involving attempts to get a Fine Gael candidate elected to a Seanad vacancy.

Mr Kehoe insisted that the Government had learned lessons from a string of controversies last year and would behave differently in 2015.

Mr Cowen said the remarks did not go far enough.

“Paul Kehoe has admitted that the Government behaved in a completely underhand manner in the way it manoeuvred the Seanad appointment scandal. However, over the past few days, the chief whip has tried to pin the blame for the Irish Water disaster onto the management.

“The reality is Irish Water is the fault of this government. It was brought to life through a combination of broken Labour promises and Fine Gael’s New ERA plans from 2009. Blaming it on management figures like [Irish Water managing director] John Tierney is just desperate scapegoating by senior government figures.

“It’s time for the Government to face up to its responsibility in creating Irish Water, not by hiding behind the skirts of management. Irish Water is a Fine Gael idea implemented by a Fine Gael-Labour government.”

Mr Kehoe said the Government should now embrace a policy of honesty.

“The chief whip should adapt honesty as the best policy for his new year’s resolution and start telling the truth about Irish Water not blaming others.”

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