Hogan denies misleading Oireachtas about Irish Water

Fianna Fáil claims Minister told committee in November 2012 that the cost would be €10 million

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan speaking to media on the subject of costs at Irish Water. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan speaking to media on the subject of costs at Irish Water. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Thu, Jan 16, 2014, 19:41

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has denied he misled the Oireachtas about the set-up costs of Irish Water.

Mr Hogan was replying to Fianna Fáil environment spokesman Barry Cowen, who said in the Dáil today that the Minister had told the Oireachtas environment committee in November 2012 that the cost would be €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,’’ Mr Cowen added.

A Department of the Environment statement accused Mr Cowen of deliberately misleading the Oireachtas with a selective quote.

“The Minister was speaking to proposed expenditure on Irish Water in 2013,’’ it added. “He was not speaking on the substantive issue of the overall establishment costs in respect of Irish Water.’’

The statement said that, later in the committee debate, the Minister further clarified that the expenditure was for interim measures, €5 million for meters surveying and €2.75 million for administrative costs.

Earlier Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore refused to condemn on the controversial staff performance-related bonuses to be paid to Irish Water staff.

The bonuses were sharply criticised by Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton and Minister of State for Finance Brian Hayes yesterday.

Mr Gilmore told the Dáil today that pay in the commercial semi-State sector was a matter for the companies themselves.

“There is a clear Government decision that reduced the pay of chief executives of commercial semi-State companies and ensured that no bonuses would be paid to them,’’ he added.

Mr Gilmore was replying to Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin who twice asked Mr Gilmore why the Government had approved the bonuses.

“Will the Tánaiste please answer the question ?,’’ said Mr Martin. “Why did the Government approve the payment of bonuses and why do we have to listen to all the hypocritical rhetoric from Minister Joan Burton, who said she is going to take it up with the Tánaiste and the rest of the Cabinet ?’’

Mr Gilmore said Mr Martin, of all people, was in no position to come into the Dáil and talk about spending in any State agencies.

“He commissioned 145 consultancy reports when he was minister for health at a cost of €30 million and spent €220 million on the Ppars project which never saw the light of day,’’ he added.

Meanwhile, the Government has defeated the Fianna Fáil private member’s motion, calling for greater transparency on the part of Irish Water, by 71 votes to 51.

Irish Times News



News - direct to your inbox

Which Daily Digest would you like?