Independent TD Shane Ross joined Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One this morning to discuss the €50million Irish Water has spent on consultants, so far.
Those paid include Ernst and Young, IBM, Accenture and Oracle.
During their discussion, Mr Ross said it was unacceptable that head of Irish Water John Tierney went on radio yesterday discussing the cost without breaking the expense down in detail.
He also reiterated Richard Boyd Barrett’s claim made on Morning Ireland this morning, saying some of this money could have been used ‘to line the pockets of rich institutions’.
Shane Ross: “It’s completely unacceptable, it puts the whole resentment against water rates right back on the agenda and it makes those people, those people who are spending so much money already, which they can’t afford, deeply, deeply hurt and the fact…”
Sean O’Rourke: “But again, if..”
Ross: “…that the money is squandered, or apparently squandered in this way.”
O’Rourke: “If they get the set-up right, these are one-off starting costs. OK, there may be some care and maintenance issues but then it’s done and they don’t have to be revisiting it, time and time again.”
Ross: “Well most starting costs, Sean, are absolutely fine, if you can afford them. At the moment the people who are going to be asked to pay these starting costs, can’t afford them.”
O’Rourke: “But you cannot start off the biggest State enterprise, since the establishment of the ESB, we’re led to believe, and expect it to be done for nothing can you?”
Ross: “But that begs the question, why couldn’t it have been a different sort of funding. Why did they actually have to do it this way? Why couldn’t they look for a public private partnership here, to raise some money…”
O’Rourke: “Because they knew there would be a huge cry, as you well know, about the privatisation question.”
Ross: “You wouldn’t privatise it, you’d have a State majority which, you would have private money in there aswell, invest it, invested carefully and invest it in order to be vigilant and show people we’re not wasting money and not spending State money, as quangos always do, at will and regardless, regardless of the wishes of those people who are actually paying for it.”
O’Rourke: “But coming back to the consultants question, Shane. I mean the alternative might be to hire a load of people, give them jobs for life and, you know, index-linked pensions, that are paid for from taxpayers’ money saecula saeculorum, I mean this is initially expensive. They get in, they do the job and they’re gone, end of.”
Ross: “That is something which the Public Accounts Committee will have to look at, you may well be right there Seán, there may be other alternatives which will be extremely expensive as well. But I don’t believe that this sort of spending should go unchecked, unexplained to the people who are paying for it, and it needs to be, every single piece needs to come out under the Freedom of Information, in a Dáil committee so we know where the money is going, so we ensure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen again and we don’t allow them to spend money without being accountable to government. When Eamon Gilmore is surprised at this, what do you think the rest of us feel?”
O’Rourke: “Do you allow for the possibilty that every cent of this may be money wisely and well and carefully spent?”
Ross: “No, I don’t, I think that’s very unlikely. There’s a pattern of quangos, in the past, of always being able to hire consultants at will and bring out their chequebook and spend huge sums of money. No I don’t. I think there undoubtedly will be huge savings to be made in there.”
Listen back here
(Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)
John Tierney and Ivor Callelly.