Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has warned the government against seeking to scapegoat senior management in Irish Water instead of confronting their own policy and strategy failures in setting up the quango.
Deputy Martin’s comments come following media speculation that senior ministers including Michael Noonan are preparing for some grand gesture at the top levels of Irish Water.
He commented, “It is increasingly clear that in the absence of any real change of strategy, the Government will instead seek to scapegoat one or more senior executives at the embattled quango in the hope that it will address the public’s disgust with how the company is implementing Government policy.
“They are wrong. The public have no confidence in this organisation but they know that this is because of the task Irish Water has been given rather than because of individual personalities in the company.
“Under Enda Kenny’s leadership the Fine Gael modus operandi when things get tough is very clear – move to shift responsibility to someone who is politically disconnected from Ministers and wring your hands about how they’ve behaved. We saw it with the treatment of the former Garda Commissioner, we saw it with the John McNulty affair when unnamed staff were blamed. My fear is that we are seeing it again now with the briefings against senior Irish Water staff.
“Irish Water is Fine Gael’s sole creation. The legislation establishing it was passed without debate and with the support of a supine Labour Party.
“The Government sought and then rejected the advice of PWC who warned against the option of linking Irish Water with Bord Gáis. The Government concealed the costs of consultants until the Chief Executive revealed the information in a media interview. The Government have dictated and supported the direction of this quango from day one. The idea that the public would now swallow the sacrifice of one or more senior officials in place of real political accountability will not fly and I would seriously caution Ministers against it.
“My colleague Barry Cowen will tomorrow introduce a motion in private members’ time that seeks to force an honest debate on the future and role of this quango. If FG and Labour are serious about addressing public concerns they will support this motion.”