Boss not to blame for bonuses, says Kenny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said Irish Water staff should not get bonuses for under-performing but has absolved the company’s boss from any responsibility for the pay awards.

His comments came as ministers overseeing the semi-state company were summoned before the Government’s Economic Management Committee yesterday to answer questions about Irish Water.

Mr Kenny pledged yesterday that the Government and the company overseeing water charges would make improvements.

The developments came after a series of controversies in recent days, including the revelation of a 9% bonus for Irish Water staff next year who under-perform.

Mr Kenny told the Dáil: “I do not believe that anyone who under-performs should be given a bonus or performance pay in the first place.”

However, Irish Water managing director John Tierney was not to blame for the bonuses system, he added. “Mr Tierney was brought in after this was set up and he cannot be blamed for that.”

There had been speculation in recent days that Mr Tierney could lose his job after a board meeting yesterday of Ervia, the parent company of Irish Water.

However, Mr Kenny told the Dáil he had “every confidence” in the company boss.

In a statement, Ervia said it had discussed “in detail the challenges” facing Irish Water.

“The board recognises that there are issues to be resolved and is fully committed to addressing these,” it said. Irish Water’s board will be disbanded next month, as scheduled, and a new one established with Ervia.

The Cabinet yesterday discussed the ongoing water charges debacle but no decisions were taken.

The issue of Irish Water improving its engagement with customers and the coalition’s “recommitment” to the utility company model were discussed, the Taoiseach’s spokesman said.

But bonuses for Irish Water staff were not discussed.

“There have been bumps along the way and we need to fix that,” he added.

A Labour spokesman said Environment Minister Alan Kelly would communicate the Cabinet’s desires to Irish Water and was regularly in contact with the company.

Mr Kelly will also shortly bring recommendations to Cabinet on who will make up the new board.

He and colleague, Communications Minister Alex White, both were called before the powerful Economic Management Council yesterday to address the charges issues.

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