Fine Gael TD for Waterford and member of the Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Paudie Coffey, has criticised the efforts by Fianna Fail to score political points in relation to the consultancy fees spent by Irish Water. Deputy Coffey was speaking following the Party’s Private Members Bill in Dáil Eireann.
“I am glad to see that the money spent by Irish Water on external consultants is being scrutinised by my fellow parliamentarians and in the media. We need to ensure that public money is being spent properly and that we are getting value for money and it is right that Irish Water is appearing before Oireachtas Committees to explain the set up costs for the organisation. It is galling to see Fianna Fáil try to make political capital out of the matter given their lamentable record on wasting public money on reports and failed projects while in Government.
“Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin commissioned 145 reports at a cost of €30 million during his four years as health minister. He also created, at great expense, the HSE, a beaurocratic behemoth which Martin used to deflect criticism of the failing health service away from himself.
“Micheál Martin also oversaw the disastrous PPARS system for payment of public service workers. PPARS was originally budgeted at €9 million but ended up costing more than €220 million before it was put out of its misery. As Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin, presided over the spending of €1 billion per year in FÁS at a time when we had full employment. The waste and inappropriate spending of public funds at FÁS during this time is well documented.
“Micheál Martin and his party colleagues have been to the fore in criticising Irish Water. While it is right that the spending of public money is scrutinised by Parliament and the media, Fianna Fáil does not have any credibility on this matter.
“The setting up of Irish Water is a significant body of work, involving as it does a single body taking over the work of the 34 local authorities. As things stand the State is spending €1.2 billion a year on water provision. An estimated 40% of our water is being wasted due to leaking pipes, an issue which was neglected during the boom despite the country being awash with money.
“I believe that this approach will save money and provide a better, less wasteful water service in the long run. It is estimated that the work carried out by Irish Water will save €2 billion over 8 years. It is important that we get this process right and I welcome the clarification received in the Oireachtas Environment Committee on the matter.”