Fianna Fáil’s Leader on Dublin City Council, Cllr Mary Fitzpatrick, has called on Ministers Phil Hogan and Fergus O’Dowd to own up to their role in the secrecy surrounding the use of public funds at Irish Water.
Cllr Fitzpatrick has pointed out that in April last year, Minister O’Dowd gave assurances through a series of Parliamentary Questions from Fianna Fáil that there would be ‘rigorous assessment and strict control procedures’ in relation to the use of external service providers at Irish Water.
“Minister O’Dowd has now called on Irish Water to disclose a full list of external companies engaged by Irish Water, as if this is all news to him,” said Cllr Fitzpatrick.
“However that is not the case. Early last year when, myself and other Fianna Fáil Councillors began to have concerns about the Minister’s plans to transfer water services to Irish Water, I asked the Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin to raise our concerns by way of Parliamentary Questions.
“On April 17th 2013 Minister O’Dowd provided a longwinded reply in which he stated he gave a clear commitment that he would ensure there would be ‘rigorous assessment prior’ to any spending and “strict control procedures” would be put in place when it came to spending on consultants to set-up Irish Water:
“External service providers, appointed ……………….. would be subject to rigorous assessment prior to being incurred and to strict control procedures with a view to ensuring that the required work is undertaken in the most economically advantageous way.”
“So the question is, what did the Minister do? What was the assessment process that concluded it was ‘economically advantageous’ to spend €100million to create Irish Water so that it could contract the same local authorities that were already delivering water to continue delivering the same water with no improvement in quality or supply? What ‘assessment’ led the Government to spend €100million so that they can increase water charges for businesses and introduce water charges for homes? What ‘assessment’ led the Government to strip local authorities of valuable public assets and saddle local authorities with continuing liabilities and debt?
“There is no business case for Irish Water. The Government ensured Irish Water is exempt from Freedom of Information legislation so this Super Quango is not answerable to the taxpayers who fund it. What is most concerning for the general public is not so much the Government spin, but the fact that they will be picking up the tab for these Ministers’ mistakes. It is alarming that senior members of the Government only now appear to be copping on to this fiasco. It stretches credulity that this is all news to them, although the alternative conclusion that they knew all along is even more worrying.