Irish Water boss Tierney vows to keep his job

Irish Water boss John Tierney has vowed to stay in his post and defended staff with the semi-state company amid accusations they will be given bonuses next year.

His defence came as it was confirmed the Government is looking at pricing options for water charges, including extending the time where households will pay a flat rate charge.

The energy regulator is also set to announce tomorrow that it will grant Irish Water an extra month — until the end of November — to collect registration and personal details from households, which in turn could see a later date for bills next year.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly held a private meeting yesterday with Mr Tierney where, he claimed, “absolutely everything” was discussed.

Immediate changes will include new dedicated phonelines for elected representatives to contact Irish Water, he said. The Labour minister also said concern over pay bonuses for staff needed to be addressed by the new board of Irish Water, which will be set up next month.

“I simply don’t believe a bonus culture should exist. There’s a lot of details in relation to that. There’s contracts, there’s details, they need to be worked out. There’s no way as a minister I’m going to get into that detail,” said Mr Kelly.

Following the Leinster House meeting Mr Tierney, in a rare public appearance, said the minister wanted “a new emphasis on all the issues to do with the customer”.

This also related to TDs, councillors and how the company replied to other people, he said. Mr Tierney said he had not been asked in recent days to step down and that he would still be in his post this time next year.

"Nobody has asked me to step down. I have got excellent support. There is a recognition this is probably one of the most difficult jobs anybody was asked to undertake. I’ve been up for the task since day one and I’ll be up for the task for the rest of my tenure,” he said.

Asked if his staff deserved pay-related awards, he said: “My staff are doing a fantastic job for the people.”

Meanwhile, Mr Kelly yesterday confirmed that the Government was looking at alternative pricing models for water charges, including the possibility of extending the period of fixed rate charges for all households beyond next summer.

Fianna Fáil has called Irish Water a “gold-plated, bonus driven, super quango”.

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