TWO former local authority managers in receipt of lucrative pensions have been employed by Irish Water.
The company has confirmed that two staff members previously headed a council, and defended employing them in the new commercial semi-state. The identity of the two employees is not being revealed. However, one is former Waterford County manager Ray O'Dwyer, who retired from the council in September 2011 with a pension package worth €334,462.
To date, 107 people have joined Irish Water from local authorities, Irish Water said, defending the decision to employ people on pensions.
"Of these, two people retired from local authorities in the normal way and were entitled to a pension in respect of their service," a spokeswoman said.
"It would have been unlawful for Irish Water to exclude job applications from any individual on the basis that the candidate was in receipt of a local authority pension.
"Candidates are assessed based on their experience, skills and fit for Irish Water and their pay and conditions in Irish Water are market based."
She added that no staff who availed of a local authority voluntary redundancy scheme last year were employed, as they were excluded from positions in Irish Water.
Irish Water is headed by former Dublin City manager John Tierney, who is not in receipt of a local authority pension, and over half of his senior management team has been drawn from local authorities and the government department already in charge of delivering services.
Meanwhile, controversy over plans to reward Irish Water workers with annual bonuses have been defended by Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte.
In a statement, he said there was no "bonus culture" in parent company Bord Gais, and nor would there be in Irish Water.
Separately, the Government also announced plans to extend the Freedom of Information Act to Irish Water to when it was established last July.