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Hogan not told of €88m spend on consultants

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Phil Hogan: Photo: Frank McGrath

Phil Hogan: Photo: Frank McGrath

Phil Hogan: Photo: Frank McGrath

"I don't micromanage Irish Water" – this was Minister Phil Hogan's response to questions about spending at the semi-State owned body.

The Minister was never told about the €88m spend on Irish Water consultants.

Bosses at the newly established State company told the Oireachtas Environment Committee the department had given the green light to a €150m takeover of the country's water services last March. And the Department of the Environment agreed the budget in December 2012 prior to a procurement process.

Last night a spokesperson for the department said Minister Hogan (right) "was aware of the overall budgeted cost but not the detail".

LEGACY

On RTE's Prime Time last night Minister Hogan said that the Government has "a lot of legacy issues" from the previous administration.

"What I do is I don't micro-manage what's happening in Irish Water," he said.

However Fianna Fail TD Barry Cowen said that establishing Irish Water was an area where the government could not blame its predecessors.

"The usual story in relation to blaming the previous Government doesn't stack up in this regard, this was born within Fine Gael in opposition," he said.

While €88m of the €150m has been allocated for contracted companies for their services, another €30m for a contingency fund is available to the body.

A department spokesperson said they received a report by Irish Water following the procurement process in March.

"This report was required under procedures put in place to ensure that public procurement processes were fully observed by BGE/Irish Water and was a feed in to a process whereby the CER (Commission for Energy Regulation) would examine the set-up costs in an advisory role to the minister. The consultant fees were included."

The department said last night that plans were put in place to monitor the costs and that the minister had asked the energy regulator to review the costs.

During yesterday's meeting, managing director of Irish Water John Tierney told the committee he has never spoken to the Mr Hogan or Fergus O'Dowd about the agency's budget.

Mr Tierney also defended the consultancy costs to the committee, saying since the outset, Bord Gais had been clear that they were always going to need them to set up Irish Water.

hnews@herald.ie


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