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In 1961, the Government established Nitrigin Eireann Teoranta (NET), a State-owned enterprise that what was to become one of the most costly and ineffective State-owned enterprises in our history. Ultimately, the decision to establish NET led to a series of disastrous political and economic decisions that continued for decades as the State wasted hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers funds to justify the investment.
Based on the recent experiences at Irish Water, another State-owned monopoly, it seems that not much has changed. Let us hope that it won’t take four decades of misallocation of taxpayers funds before our government finally realises that Irish Water is a brand that needs to be liquidated, as finally happened with NET.
Clearly, the experience of the CEO of Irish Water, as the former Dublin City manager who oversaw the costly Poolbeg incinerator fiasco, has not benefited Irish Water, the taxpayer, nor this government. The recent local government audit of the Poolbeg incinerator project strongly criticised the financial management and the cost overruns of this project, including €30m spent on consultants and over €50m on land, now valued at just €6m.
Yet nobody has been held accountable for this mismanagement or the financial burden this has resulted in for the taxpayer and, remarkably, the person who ultimately oversaw this mismanagement is now the head of Irish Water.
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