Irish Water criticised for €50m spend on consultants

Most of consultancy spend relates to the establishment of company, admits chief executive

Irish Water has spent over €50m on consultants in setting up the company over the last year, its chief executive John Tierney said today .

Most of the spend on consultant fees so far related to the establishment of Irish Water, he said. The utility company was set up from “a green field site” and was now “”up and running within the space of a year”, he said

So far €100m has been spend on the establishment of the utility company and “over 50 per cent” of that was on consultants, Mr Tierney told RTÉ Radio.

Much of the consultancy fees went to large firms based in the State and was on the basis of “open competition” and “fixed-price contracts”, he said.


However he said Irish water would have “very limited expenditure” on consultants in the future because it had hired in the expertise directly.

The establishment of Irish Water was ongoing” and would be until 2015, he said. The utility was was “on time “ and “within budget”, he said.

Asked about the spending on consultancy in Dubai today, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was important to consider the scale of the project which “does not come without costs”.

“This is the most radical shift in transforming Irish water supplies for our people and for industry since the foundation of the state,” he said.

“What is involved here is the setting up a really professional system where national standards of the highest quality apply, where business which consumes and has requirements for vast amounts of very high quality water can be sure of that.

He said people and customers “will be sure that leaks are found, leaks are fixed and that there is a far more effective spend in the provision of what is a fundamentally important product, but one that has been ignored in terms of its preciousness over the last years.”

However, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin described the spend as a "scandal waiting to evolve".

People did not know where the Government was going on this project and that people did not know how much they will have to pay when they are billed from the third quarter of the year, he said.

Irish Water was established to manage the State’s water infrastructure and has begun rolling out water meters in households across the country.

Mr Tierney said a decision on the final water rates to be charged would be decided by the end of August, he said. However he would not speculate on the amount which consumers would be charged.

Charges will apply in the last quarter of 2014 and bills will be issued in 2015. Households without meters will pay an assessed charge.

Genevieve Carbery

Genevieve Carbery

Genevieve Carbery is Deputy Head of Audience at The Irish Times

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times