Sunday 18 February 2018

'Too many chiefs' muddy Irish Water's management

John drennan

There are so many bureaucrats and politicians running Irish Water it is on course to become another HSE, according to Fianna Fail Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath.

The TD claims an "astonishingly complex political and bureaucratic set of structures" has grown around the agency in charge of water.

Dail questions by Mr McGrath revealed that four government departments and four other agencies will be responsible for the running of the new company.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan confirmed his department is responsible for financing Irish Water, while the Department of the Environment is in charge of policy.

Mr Noonan added that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform also has an oversight role, and as Irish Water was established as a subsidiary of Bord Gais Eireann, "the Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources also has statutory functions".

Outside of the role of Bord Gais, the newly established state company NewERA, which is under the remit of the National Treasury Management Agency, is continuing to provide financial and commercial advice on the setting up of Irish Water.

Mr Noonan confirmed that a fourth government agency, the Commission for Energy Regulation, is "responsible for decisions on the charging structure for water supply".

Mr McGrath said the byzantine set of political and bureaucratic structures could impact on accountability and transparency.

Mr McGrath added: "This is the chaos theory of management where we throw everything together and hope it lands right''.

He warned: "Irish Water is in real danger of turning into yet another HSE.

"It is cumbersome, bureaucratic and does not lend itself to clear lines of accountability.

"Instead, we are more likely to find ourselves bogged down in another bureaucratic quagmire," he added.

Sunday Independent

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