Hilary Quinlan should quit Irish Water, ex-FG minister says

Fergus O’Dowd says Quinlan should stand down as he is no longer a county councillor

A former Fine Gael minister has called on a director of Irish Water, Hilary Quinlan (above) ,who is also working as a ministerial driver, to step down from the board of the semi-state.

A former Fine Gael minister has called on a director of Irish Water, Hilary Quinlan (above) ,who is also working as a ministerial driver, to step down from the board of the semi-state.

 

A former Fine Gael minister has called on a director of Irish Water, who is also working as a ministerial driver, to step down from the board of the semi-state.

Fergus O’Dowd, who was junior minister for the environment until he was dropped in the summers’ reshuffle, says Hilary Quinlan should stand down because he is no longer a county councillor.

The curent Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Paudie Coffey, has hired Mr Quinlan as his ministerial driver. The Department of the Environment oversees Irish Water and Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen also said this afternoon that it is time for Mr Quinlan to “get out of the car or get off the board”.

The appointment of Hilary Quinlan, then a Fine Gael councillor in Waterford, to the board of Irish Water in November 2013 was approved by Phil Hogan, then minister for the environment, and Pat Rabbitte, then minister for communications. Mr Quinlan is paid a €15,000 annual fee for the position and says he was appointed as president of the county and city councillors association.

However, Mr O’Down said this afternoon: “He should step down from the board of Irish Water because he is no longer a councillor and councillors’ interests should be heard at that level.”

Mr Quinlan lost his Waterford city seat in the local elections last May and he has since been hired as a ministerial driver by Paudie Coffey, the junior minister at the Department of the Environment, a job which pays €665 a week. He is also entitled to a €57,757 gratuity payment after losing his seat.

Mr Coffey is a Fine Gael TD for Waterford and was promoted to the junior ministerial ranks in the reshuffle last July.

The Department of the Environment is responsible for Irish Water, and Mr Coffey is one of two ministers in the department, alongside Labour’s Alan Kelly, the senior Minister.

While the Department of the Environment said Mr Quinlan’s position is usually coterminous with Mr Coffey’s term, Mr Quinlan himself said he was working temporarily for Mr Coffey and also had other business interests to attend to, but later said he is unemployed. Asked if he is paid for his driving, Mr Quinlan responded: “I don’t think there is anyone working for free at the moment.”

Ministers of State are entitled to hire two full-time drivers on a week-on, week-off basis.

Mr Quinlan said he doesn’t see any conflict between driving for Mr Coffey and his position with Irish Water. “I was appointed [to Irish Water] because I was president of the county and city councillors association. But that’s not to say there aren’t Fine Gael positions and Labour positions.”

Mr Quinlan added: “You tell me one party out there who doesn’t look after their own. I don’t see anything wrong with it. It’s politics.” He asked why there isn’t more of a focus on the economy. “We were all nearly eating out of bins three years ago.”