A spokesperson for Irish Water confirmed the agreement was reached on February 29, insisting there was no reason to discuss the move with the Department of the Environment because it was an internal company matter.
It was reported yesterday that Irish Water spent €16m on the extension of its lease at Colville House in Dublin City three days after the general election.
The decision, confirmed after internal correspondence was released under the Freedom of Information Act, was made without consultation with the Department of the Environment or then minister Alan Kelly.
In a statement last night, an Irish Water spokeswoman said despite concern over the cost of the 10-year lease extension and the timing of the move, nothing untoward has taken place.
“Twenty-nine months ago Irish Water took over the remaining term of the lease held by the previous tenant of Colville House,” she said.
“The lease we took over ended on February 28, 2016. The end date of the lease was therefore predetermined 29 months ago.
“The signing of a new lease was simply a case of Irish Water ensuring it held a current lease for the building it occupies, ie Irish Water acting like any other normal business.”
Asked whether Mr Kelly — who did not return phone calls yesterday — was aware of the deal and if he cautioned against or supported it, a spokesperson for the Department of the Environment said: “This is a matter for Irish Water and you should contact them to discuss the specific requirements they had with regard to the selection of the offices at Colville House, Talbot St.
“It is a matter for the Ervia board who approved the signing of the new lease. The minister had no role in this process.”
The 10-year lease extension is one of a series of planning controversies that have emerged in Irish Water since the general election result.
In March, it emerged the company had advertised 46 positions since January, most of which were highly skilled and senior posts.
It also faced questions over still unexplained delays in publishing the latest payment/cancellation figures for water charges. The figures were meant to be published three weeks ago. They are now expected to be released in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny will separately meet with all opposition leaders today to discuss whether a “full-blown” Moriarty tribunal-style inquiry is needed to uncover the facts behind the IBRC/Siteserv controversy.
Mr Kenny sent the request for the meeting to Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, the Social Democrats, Greens, and Independents4Change yesterday afternoon amid delays in the investigation.
The Siteserv and IBRC investigation was set up in June 2015 after public outrage and a brief constitutional crisis over what could be reported in the Dáil.
It had been intended to complete its work within seven weeks after examining 37 company sales — including the Siteserv deal linked to Irish Water.