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Trips abroad among Irish Water boss John Tierney's €12,000 credit card expenses

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John Tierney

John Tierney

John Tierney

A CREDIT card in the name of Irish Water boss John Tierney was used to pay for 16 publications of industry research, at a cost of more than €3,000.

Documents released to the Herald under the Freedom of Information Act (FoI) revealed how an average of more than €187 was paid for each piece of "technical resource material".

The documents also showed spending on foreign travel, car maintenance, mobile phone equipment and business lunches paid for on the card to total more than €12,000 between May 2013 and July 2014.

On December 13 last year, there were three separate charges on Mr Tierney's credit card for purchases of the "resource material".

The first was for €2,173, the second for €1,023 and the third for €76.60.

Flights

Asked about the spending, a spokesperson for Irish Water said that the spending was for 16 publications from UK Water Industry Research (UWIR) as resource material for Irish Water technical staff.

According the documents, the combined cost of the reference material was among the most expensive charge to the card, even when the total cost of travel and accommodation for individual conferences and visits is taken into account.

The records show that a trip to Amsterdam was responsible for the greater part of the payments that were made on Mr Tierney's business card.

In October last year, four Irish Water executives, including Mr Tierney, Jerry Grant, Ray O'Dwyer and Gerry Galvin travelled to Amsterdam for a conference. They stayed at the three-star Westcord City Centre Hotel at a cost of €1,152 for two nights. The total cost for flights came in at just less than €877, while the conference fees came to €2,360.

On November 4, four meals were had at the Homaned II restaurant at a cost of €162.50, while the following night, Restaurant Toet-Ancham was the venue, where the total cost was €121.50. There was also a frugal lunch for four during the trip, which came in at €43.60.

In all, the three-day trip to Amsterdam cost €4,716. However, there was an additional note to outline details of a refund on the conference fee (€259.63) and hotel (€128.20).

Included in the cost of the Air Lingus flights were two separate charges for changing flights, one for €104 and the other for €40.

Irish Water explained that Mr Tierney had to return earlier than scheduled to attend a meeting and that Mr O'Dwyer had to fly out form Cork early on the Monday morning, November 4.

A spokesman for Irish Water told the Herald that the itinerary for the trip included a visit to a water treatment plan to view new technology that would be used at the Ringsend plant in Dublin. He said that the technology was going to save millions of euros.

Mr Tierney also paid for a trip to Edinburgh in Scotalnd on his business card. However, Irish Water said that the payments related to other staff.

The total cost of the hotel for the trip, which was to visit Scottish Water, was €351.66 and the group stayed in the Point Hotel, which has since been re-branded to the four-star Double Tree. The cost for the flights for the trip was almost €585.

Also appearing on the card was almost €784 in charges for flights and flight changes in April this year under the heading "study visit to operations plant".

"This was a site visit to examine water services workflow operations in Beaune, France and to meet the local authority," Irish Water said.

operations

The trip took place between May 7 and May 8. There were no accommodation or subsistence costs on the card associated with the trip and the utility said that there were no other expenses. Both Mr Tierney and Mr O'Dwyer travelled for the operations plant visit.

A €231.30 business dinner at Fire restaurant in Dublin on October 9 and another business lunch at Brownes Hotel in Dublin on July 22 (€59.40) were a mong the other expenses that appeared on the credit card.

Also in July, there was a €243.70 charge for "company car maintenance" at Clonskeagh Motors on the card.

In January this year, €375 was spent on the card for accommodation for five staff at the Maldron Hotel, while they were there for workshops.

In September last year, there was a €40 charge from Payzone for an annual parking tag.

Two annual bank fees of €200 have been charged to the card.

In total €12,140.94 was spent on the card from May last year to July this year. A total of €12,541 was charged, but there was €400 deducted due to overpayments. Those overpayments related to the Amsterdam trip, where there was an overcharge on the card by the hotel and for the conference tickets.

"It should be noted that the credit card in John Tierney's name is effectively a company credit card and includes items which are not expenses in his name," a spokesperson said.

A request was made for the full expenses claimed by Mr Tierney in the period. However, while his credit card covered the cost of business expenses at the company, there was no record of mileage or other expenses claimed by Mr Tierney in the 14-month period. The expenses claimed by board members are in addition to significant spend on employee facilities at the company. In June this year it emerged that more than €55,000 had been spent on a state-of-the-art gym for staff members of Irish Water.

The spending for the facility - to use it staff have to pay just €20 - included €12,879 on two treadmills and €2,316 on an exercise bike, while weight machines cost €8,000.

Costs for entertainment for staff showed that the largest amount of spending was on a dinner for 120 employees in Croke Park which cost €4,575.90 in August last year.

On the same day, a laughter yoga seminar was held for employees, which cost €250.

hnews@herald.ie


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