Saturday 27 December 2014

Irish Water chief dodges grilling over Poolbeg plan

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Published 25/02/2014 | 02:30

John Tierney,Chief Executive of Irish Water   arriving for the Oireachtas Environment committee meeting at Leinster House yesterday.   Pic Tom Burke 14/1/14
John Tierney

UNDER-FIRE Irish Water chief John Tierney has declined an invitation to address an Oireachtas committee on the stalled Poolbeg Incinerator.

Mr Tierney is facing a series of glaring questions in relation to his role in the disastrous project, which could leave the taxpayer saddled with a €108m bill.

Two Oireachtas committees have said they want to grill Mr Tierney over decisions he made in relation to Poolbeg during his seven-year tenure as Dublin City Manager.

TDs are particularly concerned about revelations that there are no records of minutes from crucial project meetings involving senior Dublin City Council officials, as well as the €30m spend on consultancy.

Mr Tierney received a formal invitation to appear in front of the Oireachtas Environment Committee earlier this month, while the high-powered Public Accounts Committee is also seeking to question him.

In a written response to the Environment Committee, seen by the Irish Independent, Mr Tierney rejects the invitation to appear on this occasion, but said he would be willing to "engage" on the issue in the future.

"The committee will be aware that this matter is still subject to a contractual process and determinations from the EU Commission are awaited. When these matters are finally decided I will be happy to assist in any further engagement on this project through the appropriate channels."

The EU Commission is investigating a series of complaints in relation to Poolbeg and is expected to publish its findings in the coming days.

Meanwhile, PAC chairman John McGuinness has confirmed that his committee is seeking to obtain all relevant documents relating to spending on the project.

This request includes access to an audit report, which is in the possession of Dublin City management and the council's audit committee.

URGENCY

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr McGuinness said the document must be handed over to PAC. "It is essential that documents held by both the Department of the Environment and Dublin City Council are handed over," he said.

PAC member and Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy said the information should be handed over as a "matter of urgency".

"Quite clearly there are huge questions that haven't been answered in relation to Poolbeg."

At a meeting of the Oireachtas Environment Committee earlier this month, Dublin City Manager Owen Keegan admitted that it may be scrapped entirely. He also backed calls for an independent investigation into the project.

Irish Independent

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