Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he was fully aware of the €180m set-up costs of Irish Water, but he did not specify whether he had knowledge of the €85m spent on consultancies.
Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Kenny said he took full responsibility for the policy decision of moving the operations of 34 local authorities to a single utility which would save over €1bn.
Responding to questions from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, the Taoiseach said Irish Water was a public utility “and, therefore, there is nothing that should be a secret about it and nothing that will be a secret about it”.
Mr Kenny said Irish Water would be fully transparent and accountable to the Dáil and would be “subject to the full rigours” of the Freedom of Information Act from the company’s inception last year.
“It will be a national flagship of high quality and integrity. As leader of the Government, I say that Uisce Éireann will be wide open in terms of transparency, accountability and justification of expenditure. Every deputy on all sides and none and Oireachtas committees will have the opportunity to see that this happens. It is in all our interests that this be so,” he said.
At Leaders Questions yesterday Micheál Martin described the Taoiseach’s comments as “disgraceful” saying opposition TDs from all sides of the House had asked specific questions of Environment Minister Phil Hogan about the costs of setting up Irish Water and the number of consultancies they had hired.
Mr Martin claimed the Government had shown “a downright disregard” for the House by refusing to answer the questions, saying Mr Hogan and his department had known about the costs for well over 12 months yet answers were not forthcoming.
“And it is now clear, Taoiseach, that Minister Hogan did not want to tell the truth to the Dáil about the establishment costs of Irish Water,’’ he added.
He said it was a deliberate, premeditated and conscious decision to” hide information from the Dáil” and by extension to deny this information to the citizens.
Mr Martin said Irish Water had been established under “a cloak of secrecy” and had angered people across the country as the public had not been told it would cost €180m to set up and the €50m spent on consultancies was only revealed on the Sean O’Rourke radio show last week.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams described Mr Kenny’s responses on the FOI as “a joke”, saying Fine Gael had promised a democratic revolution yet had blocked a Sinn Féin amendment to bring Irish Water under the FOI Act.
He said €86m was spent on consultants at a time when €3m was slashed from the housing adaption schemes for the elderly and disabled citizens, saying the Government was protecting the “Golden Circle” while denying funding for frontline services.
He called on Mr Hogan to resign, asking the Taoiseach: “Do you agree with me that the minister has 1, 2, 3, too many debacles and this minister should go?”
“No is the answer to that question” said Mr Kenny who also dismissed Sinn Féin accusations that Irish Water was being set up for privatisation.
IBM has secured three consultancy contracts delivering Irish Water’s call centre operations, customer care and billing operations. It has also advised the utility on where and when to invest in the vast water network and has provided support services across IT, finance, human resources and regulatory issues.
The worldwide consulting firm is developing a number of IT operating procedures across security, systems, testing and data modelling. It will also provide an overall programme management which will include working with government officials and is also helping the company define its ‘credo’ or “guiding principles.”
Ernst & Young: €4.6m
The accounting firm managed and organised programmes in relation to commercial brand development, customer engagement, pensions, employee contracts/relations and governance.
A&L Goodbody: €2.9m
With almost 400 lawyers in Ireland and Britain, it will provide legal services on company establishment, regulatory issues and procurement.
The accountancy firm will supply services in relation to risk, quality assurance and will report back to the board of Irish water as to whether the company is fit for purpose and is designed to accomplish what it is supposed to achieve
McCann Fitzgerald: €0.97m
One of the country’s biggest law firms it is also providing legalservices.
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