Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson Barry Cowen has provided evidence to the Dáil that the Environment Minister Phil Hogan misled the Oireachtas about the set-up costs of Irish Water.
Deputy Cowen has provided a transcript from the Oireachtas Environment Committee in November 2012, showing Minister Hogan outlining set-up costs for Irish Water of €10 million. This came three months after we now know that the Economic Management Council had secretly approved funding of €180 million to set up Irish Water.
Deputy Cowen Explained, “Either Minister Hogan deliberately lied about how much taxpayers’ money was being spent on setting up Irish Water, or he accidentally gave a gross underestimation to the Oireachtas Environment Committee in November 2012. Either way, we now know as a result of yesterday’s PAC meeting that when Minister Hogan publicly stated that the cost would be €10 million, he knew that €180 million had already been committed three months previously.
“The Minister again misled the public on Prime Time earlier this week by stating that Oireachtas members had been given a chance to contribute their views on the €180 million set-up costs. That is utterly untrue. The only figure that Oireachtas members were given, through that budget discussion at Committee in November 2012, was a claimed set-up cost of €10 million. There was no suggestion of, or approval sought for €180 million set up costs.
“I believe that Minister Hogan is deliberately trying to confuse people to save his own political skin as this controversy rumbles on. For the past two years he has gone out of his way to be highly secretive, block questions, dodge responsibility, shut down debate and mislead the Oireachtas and the public about what was involved in setting up Irish Water. It’s becoming increasingly clear that he and his colleagues were just hoping that no one would notice until after the Local and European elections are over.
“Minister Hogan must set the record straight as a matter of urgency. I am calling on him to come before the Dáil, correct the grossly inaccurate statement he made in November 2012 and explain how such a ‘mistake’ could have happened.”