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Wednesday 27 August 2014

FG board member 'unaware' of plans for payments

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

Published 17/01/2014 | 02:30

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A MEMBER of the board of Irish Water has said he was unaware of payments to consultants and plans for staff at the utility to be paid bonuses.

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Hilary Quinlan, the only politician appointed to the board, said he had not previously been aware of issues which emerged at meetings of the Oireachtas Environment Committee and Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

"It is news to me what I have heard in the last few days," he said.

Mr Quinlan, a Fine Gael councillor from Waterford city, was also critical of the fact questions from TDs on consultants were not answered, saying: "There has to be transparency regarding issues of contracts.

"There are a lot of questions unanswered that came from the Dail. They should have been answered before Christmas," he said.

"But now at least it has been cleared up and hopefully we will move on in a positive direction."

When asked what had happened at the two board meetings since his appointment last November, Mr Quinlan said they had discussed the "memorandum of association and articles, the setting up of a company and also the legislation that had to be put through."

Mr Quinlan's appointment to the board was criticised earlier this week by Fianna Fail TD and PAC member Sean Fleming, who described him as a friend of Taoiseach Enda Kenny and alleged that cronyism was involved.

COMPETITION

This was rejected by Mr Quinlan, although he conceded there had been no competition for the position, to which he was appointed by Environment Minister Phil Hogan.

Board members receive €15,000-a-year in fees and are also entitled to travel expenses.

Mr Quinlan said he was not motivated to take the job because of the expenses involved.

"It is the policy of the association to promote the inclusion of elected councillors on state boards, acting in the best interests of the people and in the best interests of local government," he said in an interview with Waterford Local Radio.

The councillor also defended his credentials when asked what expertise he could bring to the board.

"I am 29 years a councillor. I have been through many situations with local authorities and water services up to now. I can bring a certain knowledge to this board," he said.

Irish Independent

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