Saturday 20 January 2018

Call for Irish Water boss to be quizzed on Poolbeg project

Irish Water chief executive John Tierney
Irish Water chief executive John Tierney

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

THE new Irish Water chief John Tierney is facing renewed calls to appear in front of two Oireachtas committees following a highly significant ruling on the stalled Poolbeg Incinerator.

The controversial Ringsend project – which has already cost the taxpayer €108m – has moved a step closer to completion after the European Commission found that it did not involve a breach of state aid rules.

Commission officials spent months examining the details of a contract between the Dublin local authorities and waste company Covanta after receiving a complaint from a member of the public. The complaint alleged the public-private partnership contract with the firm breached EU regulations on state aid and procurement.

However, in a statement yesterday, the Commission ruled in favour of the four Dublin local authorities who have invested in the incinerator in a move that edges the project closer to completion.

"The European Commission has found that a series of measures by the Dublin local authorities to participate in the Waste-to-Energy project in Poolbeg, Dublin, are in line with the EU state aid rules," it said.

COMPLAINT

A second complaint on the issue of procurement continues to be considered.

The decision to clear the local authorities on this particular complaint has turned the focus back on Mr Tierney.

Mr Tierney spent seven years as city manager and played a major managerial role in the development of Poolbeg.

Earlier this year, Mr Tierney rejected a request by the Oireachtas Environment Committee to answer questions on Poolbeg.

He said he would not appear while EU investigations were taking place.

In light of yesterday's development, the committee has written to Mr Tierney and requested again that he appears.

Labour TD Kevin Humphreys told the Irish Independent that the committee has "numerous questions" for the former Dublin city manager.

"This decision at EU level should now allow the CEO of Irish Water to review his decision not to appear in front of environment committee.

"I also believe that this project should be shelved."

Public Accounts Committee chairman John McGuinness also said he would like his committee to question Mr Tierney over the spend on the project.

Meanwhile, Dublin City Council insisted no decision has yet been made in relation to whether Poolbeg will proceed.

Covanta welcomed the EU's decision, saying it meant the incinerator could now go ahead.

"The stage is now set to move forward with the project, and we look forward to working with Dublin City Council to that end," it said in a statement.

Irish Independent

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