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Irish Water chiefs to hold council talks

Longford County Council offices. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie

Longford County Council offices. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie

Irish Water chiefs are to meet with Longford County Councillors in March as the row over performance related pay inside the State utility company lingers on, writes Liam Cosgrove.

Elected representatives were told that senior figures are to undertake a nationwide tour of local authorities to outline how the new national service will work.

Earlier this month, Irish Water gradually started taking over the managership of local authority water supplies.

In Longford that looks set to include up to €130m in assets with households expected to receive their first water bills under the new arrangement in January 2015.

But it was recent revelations Irish Water bosses had spent close to €90m on consultancy fees in order to set up the company which drew most annoyance from councillors.

“To spend €85m on consultants is an absolute disgrace,” said an irate Cllr Martin Mulleady.

“We have engineers in every council in Ireland. There must be at least 150 to 200 in each, so surely they can put a plan together.”

Like consultancy fees, concerns had previously been expressed about whether the liabilities of local authorities would also be inherited by Irish Water.

Those fears seem to have eased with Cllr Sean Farrell, saying the news could only be seen as a positive development.

Independent Cllr Paul Connell gave a slightly differing view as he questioned the suitability of those selected to head up Irish Water.

“The CEO of Irish Water (John Tierney) is the former manager of Fingal Co Council. Is he the right man for the job? I’m not sure because he was the biggest user of consultants in Ireland,” he said.

He also raised questions over why performance related incentives were being made available to Irish Water staff.

In recent days it’s been confirmed almost 300 employees have contracts which include incentivised bonuses.

Cllr Connell said it was an admission that required urgent revision.“The Auditor General looks after taxpayers money and yet he has no say over Irish Water at all.”

 

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