You Want Transparency?

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rosePhil Hogan (top) and Rose Hynes, of Irish Water

 You can’t handle transparency.

On February 24, 2012, it was reported that Bord Gáis – renamed Ervia in June 2014 – had bid for the setting up of Irish Water, almost two weeks before Denis O’Brien bought Siteserv for €45.4million in cash from the IBRC, formerly known as Anglo Irish Bank.

On April 17, 2012, the Government announced that it had agreed to establish Irish Water as an “independent State owned subsidiary within the Bord Gáis Éireann (BGE) group”.

During the set-up phase of Irish Water, and specifically in October and November 2012, two meetings took place between former Environment Minister Phil Hogan and the chairperson of what was then Bord Gáis, Rose Hynes.

The meetings took place in Mr Hogan’s office and are noted in Mr Hogan’s official diary.

According to journalist John Burke, of RTÉ’s This Week, no minutes or notes were recorded at these two meetings.

Ms Hynes – who is a lawyer by profession and who was formerly appointed to the board of Aer Lingus in 2007 by former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes – became Irish Water’s first chairperson in July 2013. She was not appointed to Irish Water through the public procurement process.

In a statement to RTÉ’s This Week, Ervia said it was “customary practice that there were no notes taken at these meetings.”

Mr Burke said all matters would have been up for discussion during these meetings, including the installation of water meters.

Separate to those two meetings – between Mr Hogan and Ms Hynes – Mr Burke also sought minutes in relation to meetings that took place in relation to Irish Water and Bord Gáis between April and September 2012.

During that period there were 23 meetings between Bord Gais and the Department of the Environment. Out of those 23 meetings, no notes or minutes were taken for 13 of those meetings.

Those 13 meetings included two further meetings that were held between then Bord Gáis and Mr Hogan.

RTÉ’s This Week has previously reported that, on May 11, 2012, in a meeting which took place between Bord Gais and the Department of the Environment, Bord Gáis was questioning if it was the correct course of action to go ahead with water metering at that stage.

According to Mr Burke, there are no records to the four meetings that took place between Bord Gáis and the Department of the Environment in the two weeks prior to that May 11 meeting and no records relating to another meeting that took place less than a week after that May 11 meeting.

There are also no records for meetings that took place between Mr Hogan and Bord Gáis on June 28, 2012 and July 12, 2012, nor for a meeting in June 2012 between the water regulator CER, Bord Gáis and New Era.

Meanwhile…

A report by Tom Lyons, in The Sunday Business Post, says Denis O’Brien’s company Siteserv is in a legal battle with Irish Water over costs in relation to delays caused by the protests against the installation of water meters and the video monitoring of the protests.

Siteserv’s subsidiary, Sierra, is part of GMC Sierra which won a State contract to install water meters in Dublin, the Midlands, Wicklow, Kildare, Offaly, Laois, Mayo, Roscommon, Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim in July 2013.

Sierra – which was chosen as the preferred bidder for a €50million, three-year contract, to provide boiler installation and servicing services to for Bord Gáis in December 2009 – was bought by Siteserv in September 2007.

Mr Lyons reports:

“The Sunday Business Post has learned that both sides have appointed legal teams to attempt to resolve the dispute, which centres around a bill of between €3million and €5million… Both sides are believed to be prepared to enter a mediation process to try to resolve the dispute, rather than suing each other. It is understood that Siteserv believes it was given verbal reassurances by Irish Water senior management that the state utility would pick up at least some of the cost of the protests. What exactly – if anything – was agreed is now disputed by the state water company… McCann FItzgerald is advising Irish Water on the matter, while a well-known Dublin firm of solicitors is acting for GMC [Sierra].”

Good times.

(Photocall Ireland/Irish Water)

20 thoughts on “You Want Transparency?

  1. Soundings

    It’s hard to get away from the perception that Fine Gael gifted a golden goose to their rich ally, Denis O’Brien, in both the sale of Siteserv to DOB and the timing of the subsequent award of a lucrative contract which has transformed the financial position of Siteserv (though the contract itself was subject to procurement procedures). And what did FG do with the Minister who oversaw the fiasco of the property charge (rescued when the Revenue Commissioners were given the authority to collect payment) and the water tax? Why, they all piled in behind Phil’s elevation to the European Commission. It stinks to hell.

    1. Kolmo

      The Irish Times are presumably doing an in-depth investigative piece on Fine Gael party funding as we speak, like they did last week with some other party they are totally not shitting their pants might get elected, any day now they will tell us all the sources of finance for Fine Gael. The party of Estate Agents, Bankers and Off-Shore Hot-shots.

      Any. Day. Now….

      …tumbleweed whishing slowly past, as a mexican church tolls it’s lonely bell and the dusty, empty horizon goes on, forever…

      1. Jonotti

        Really, didn’t know that? So why are the government making us pay again? What are they going to do with the money?

    1. f-mong

      do you know what happened at these unreported meetings Jonotti?

      all of this is why I won’t pay my water bill, we’re not paying for water services, we already do that through taxes.. we’re paying for another quango and jobs for the boys. You’d have to be blind not to see it.

  2. phil

    Just not believable… Some notes would have been taken, if only to decide what action items come out of said meetings …

    1. ollie

      there will be no record of who was involved in the decision to spend half a billion to install meters that are now useless, the decision to appoint a ceo with a history of wasting public money, the decision to pay employees twice the UK average, the decision to employ twice the number of employees required, and so on.

  3. Buzz

    There should be a rule that requires notes to be taken at these meetings. I presume this is just their way of trying to circumvent FOI requests. Can’t wait for the election to give these shysters their walking papers.

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