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Irish Water boss defends €50m consultant cost

IRISH Water chief John Tierney has claimed that the majority of the €50m the State body spent on consultation fees went on contracts that had been tendered before he joined.

Independent Senator Shane Ross branded the lavish spending "completely and utterly unacceptable". But Mr Tierney said he could justify the record and denied acting "fast and loose".

"All of the tenders for this were tendered before I joined (Irish Water)," he told Newstalk Breakfast. "We tendered openly on fixed-price contracts. And every penny we spend in this regard, and in the service already, takes a look at what we have spent to date.

He also defended the contracts as being an essential "part of the setup cost".



"There is a very limited spend on consultancies as part of the enduring organisation, except where, in the capital programme, you would obviously hire consultancies as part of the deciding of the construction of schemes," he said.

"Absolutely we have (achieved value for money in the contracts). And the independent verification of that will be the testament of that."

Speaking on Radio One this morning, Senator Shane Ross claimed that Irish Water was not "subject to the sort of scrutiny that they should be".

Senator Ross said that the revelation of the body's spending would further reaffirm resentment towards water charges among the public.

He also called for the body to be brought before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), and said that a forensic examination of the organisation's spending would demonstrate that there were "huge savings to be made".

Fine Gael TD Simon Harris, who sits on the PAC, supported the calls for Irish Water to answer questions before the committee and defend their spending "of taxpayers' money on consultants".

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has said that the company should be given a chance to explain their record, and that an understanding needs to established.

"We need to give Irish Water the opportunity to explain the value for money that they're getting and the tendering procedures that they have before they spend money on consultants," he said.

After the revelations of the spending emerged yesterday, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore challenged the utility firm to demonstrate that the outlay "represents value for money".

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin also branded the amounts "extraordinary" and "scandalous", saying that householders would be "very angry" if their water charges went towards paying for "such extravagant" fees.



Mr Tierney, the managing director of Irish Water, yesterday confirmed that 50pc of the €100m spent on the establishment of the state body had been spent on consultancy.

"All external contracts were subject to a competitive tender process to ensure best value for money," he said.

"The services providers include IBM, Accenture, Ernst and Young and Oracle."

Mr Tierney added that the services secured from the consultancy firms had helped in the establishment of asset management systems.