Fianna Fáil has urged Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd and the Chairman of the Environment Committee Michael McCarthy to put their money where their mouth is and back a Dáil motion to immediately lift the FOI ban at Irish Water.
The party’s Environment Spokesperson Barry Cowen commented, “Over the past few days we have seen government representatives trip over themselves to suddenly demand transparency at Irish Water. These are senior members of the same Government that went out of its way to cloud the establishment of Irish Water in secrecy. They supported the move to exempt Irish Water from FOI and from the remit of the Comptroller & Auditor General, they blocked my questions about the budget for consultants and they voted to guillotine the legislation before Christmas so that none of these issues could be debated.
“The sudden change of heart from Minister O’Dowd and Labour’s Michael McCarthy today in the face of public anger is welcome. If they truly believe in the need for transparency and accountability at Irish Water as they now claim to do, they have an opportunity to demonstrate it this week by supporting a Fianna Fáil motion in the Dáil to immediately lift the FOI ban at Irish Water. Deputy McCarthy has now said that he believes the Super Quango should be included in FOI ‘forthwith’, so I look forward to him and his colleagues backing our proposals this week.
“I am deeply concerned by comments from Minister O’Dowd indicating that he has no idea what the €100 million of taxpayers’ money that went into setting up Irish Water was supposed to be spent on. A confidential report obtained by RTE also shows the extent of unnecessary spending on consultancy. All of this further emphasises the need for the Minister in charge, Phil Hogan, to appear at Tuesday’s Environment Committee meeting.
“An hour of questioning on Tuesday is nowhere near enough to get to the bottom of the deep rooted problems at Irish Water. I believe that what we have heard about over the past few days is just the tip of the iceberg. We need to lift the lid on spending on Irish Water immediately, before it is too late.
“The Government parties have the numbers to make this happen this week. If they mean a word of what they have been telling people this week, they will do so by supporting our motion and bill.”