Phil Hogan, Abtran And Irish Water


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“Tánaiste, over the lifetime of this Government, there have been a number of serious concerns, regarding probity and accountability and today I want to discuss another one that I believe merits scrutiny and that is the awarding of the call centre work for Irish Water to the Cork-based company Abtran. I know you’ll recall that Abtran was the company that got the contract for the SUSI grant system and it came under serious criticism, and rightly so, for its failing and it cost an additional almost €6million. And despite that, it went on to get, it was awarded the property tax contract. And then Revenue had to step in because it failed to cope initially.”

“Yet, after both of those high-profile failings, it was awarded the call centre work for Irish Water. We also know that Abtran has at least 10 other Government and public contracts. Now one of the criteria for the tendering process for the Irish Water contract was that the company had to have a turnover of €20million for the preceding three years. And given that it had a number of lucrative State contracts, prior to the Irish Water contract, the State certainly improved Abtran’s ability to meet the criteria laid down in the process. What’s interesting here is the way it was awarded, the way the contract was awarded and the obvious questions it raises about probity and the awarding of the contract.”

“Now Tánaiste, through Freedom of Information, I’ve established that on the 15th of February, 2012, the then minister [for the Environment] Phil Hogan’s private secretary received a fairly informal email seeking a meeting with Phil in order to lobby on behalf of Abtran. On the same day, at 5pm, an email was sent saying that the minister had agreed to meet the company. On the 27th of February, on the same year, we know that, through the work from Gavin Sheridan’s minister’s diary, that they met, that the minister met both the person who sent the original lobbying email, Mr O’Byrne – the co-owner of Abtran. In March, 2013, that company was then awarded the metering [sic] contract.”

“The Irish Water call centre contract, Tanaiste, as you know, is a very lucrative contract. It’s worth in the region of €50million over four years. And we know through the Freedom of Information that one of the key criteria was that the awarding of the contract, the firm that the contract was awarded to, had to have a proven track record. Now I presume that means a good track record – so the questions I want to ask you are: Are you satisfied that despite a very public failings of Abtran in relation to the SUSI scheme and the property tax scheme that they were still awarded an extremely lucrative contract by the State? Given the criteria? Are you aware that in 2015, late 2015, a State investment vehicle, also invested an undisclosed sum of money into Abtran? Do you know what that money is for? Do you know how much that was? And are you concerned about what appears to be the favouring of Abtran for Government funds?”

Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy for Kildare North speaking in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions in the last few minutes.

More to follow.

Previously: Contains Impurities

47 thoughts on “Phil Hogan, Abtran And Irish Water

    1. Fergus the magic postman

      It is good. Refreshing. That should not be the case, but it is.

      Catherine Murphy has outshone everybody in there over the last couple of years, in the face of all kinds of vagueness, book passing, half answers, outright lies, & bullying all at the hands of the current government and their mate. Yet she soldiers on. Digging.

      She and everybody else knows that this digging won’t be fruitless however, because the shadyness of this lot in Government is as obvious as the nose on your face to everyone, including their own supporters (who by their very nature choose to overlook such things).

      Come on SDs, & keep it up Catherine. Well done.

    2. manolo

      This is among the reasons why I am voting SocDems if they put a candidate in my area. Otherwise, looking for a good independent.

    3. Mickey Twopints

      Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall will be at UL tonight with Limerick City candidate Sarah Jane Hennelly. 7 p.m. at the Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMSO-028) for “an evening of discussion and debate”

  1. george

    The turnover stipulation seems strange You could have 20million turnover and make a loss. You could have a 10million turnover and make 9million in profit.

    1. Nially

      It’s odd, but pretty common; it’s assessing size rather than quality, as a clearance bar to stop every random independent contractor bidding for stuff. Ideally, the rest of the tender criteria (properly used and assessed) should provide detail on the actual quality of the bidding firm.

  2. Anne

    “Abtran was set up on Wed the 22nd of Jan 1997 in Co. Cork. Their current status is Normal. The company’s current directors Patrick Joseph Fitzgerald, Gerard Fitzgerald, Patrick Gerard Ryan, Michael Fitzgerald and Gerard McCarthy have been the director of 12 other Irish companies between them; 2 of which are now closed. Abtran has 2 shareholders.”

    Just trying to do a bit of digging there…

    1. Mustafa

      The two shareholders are

      Forrest Hill Global Limited
      Shareholder Type Company
      Shareholder Address Road Town,
      Virgin Island,
      No. Of Shares 1,000 (100%)
      Share Currency EUR
      Share Class A ORDINARY
      Share Currency EUR
      Shares Issued 1
      Shareholder’s Allocation

      Edgeway Global Unlimited
      Shareholder Type Company
      Shareholder Address Po Box 3340,
      Road Town Tortola,
      Virgin Islands,
      No. Of Shares 1 (100%)
      Share Currency EUR

    1. ProvingGround

      Why the liquidation of IBRC was carried out – literally – overnight, without dissent from FG, FF and most of Labour…

    2. DubLoony

      “Joan and her rhetoric about transparency is a load of waffle.”
      This has been unearthed as result of Freedom of Information requests and the list of registered Lobbyists, brought to you by Labour.

      You’re welcome.

      And Phil Hogan is FG

    1. Lorcan Nagle

      Well, except for the godawful neoliberal policies FF/FG would implement over the life of that government.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        Sure but there’s a decent chance it’d be the last government they’d get to abuse with their egos and laziness. People would hopefully start to think of them as one entity anyway but having someone like Murphy get more time to hold them to account in the Dail as leader of the other side would go a long way to helping people see them as one corrupt unit which would hopefully end them as viable parties.

        1. Lorcan Nagle

          I figured that’s where you were going with the point, but I’m honestly fearful as to what another 5 years with Enda at the helm will bring. The FG talk of dropping taxes in favour of an American-style ‘small’ government terrifies me and I’d be worried that they’ll manage to irreprably damage our public services or even manage to privatise some of them before they get kicked out.

          Long term, it’s definitely for the good of Ireland if FF and FG go away and get replaced with parties that have similar idologies in terms of policies but no institutionalised corruption, but short-term I’m not sure if we can afford to let them mess up enough to do that right now.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            It’s not like I’m not fearful myself but what are the realistic chances of us having a non FG/FF leader as Taoiseach in the next Dáil? Negligible. There is a depressing lack of self confidence in our national psyche, a defeatist attitude. Most people are going to vote for FG/FF because they’re the safer, devil you know options. I think the FG/FF coalition is the best scenario we can get from that probable situation because I think that will help people see that there really are alternatives. They don’t have to vote for FG/FF because they don’t think there’s any other option.

          2. ethereal_myst

            and that’s the attitude that keeps us firmly stuck in the mire while the heap more piles of poo on us….climb out of that pit and make a change

  3. Kolmo

    Iceland has a timely and thorough investigation to the Bank criminality that destroyed their economy in 2010 – Jails 15 of the countries Bank CEO’s, Investment House CEO’s, Supreme Court Attorney, Top business people and top civil servant of the finance ministry. It didn’t reverse the damage – but justice was seen to be done.
    Ireland has an inquiry, 8 years after the event – ah, sure ’twas nobodies fault….nothing. Big middle finger to everyone. Sh1t on all your houses.

    Abtran and IW are a new tribunal in the making – line up barristers, gravy train on the horizon, and absolutely nothing will come of it. Massive waste of our money. Tuesdays.

  4. Andy

    What a load of rubbish.

    A company with 9 state contracts as stated by murphy sought to meet a minister in Feb 2012.

    And somehow she’s linking that meeting with that company being awarded a 10th contract 13 months later (March 2013).

    This is the same as all her other stuff. She implies corruption or collusion but never ever had any evidence to back her claims up and will never make any of her key statements/accusations outside the dail.

    Abtran couldn’t enforce the LPT contract due to her comrades recommending citizens not pay it as it wasn’t a tax. It was turned into a tax and taken over by ROS to make sure it was paid.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      “Abtran couldn’t enforce the LPT contract due to her comrades”

      “Comrades”. I think that tells everyone what they need to know about this chap.

      1. Andy

        Catherine Murphy’s political career (1980’s-1990’s) began in The Workers Party – which was a marxist (proletariat v bourgeois) political group.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          Ok. It’s not 1988 right now. You’re not seriously going to argue that you meant that word as anything other than an insult, are you?

          1. Andy

            That’s a fair comment. I did mean it as an insult.

            I pretty much loathe all politicians & lobby groups, but more than any,
            I loathe those that
            (i) whip up the populous with unsubstantiated claims [Murphy, Doherty, Wallace, Ogle],
            (ii) misuse economic terms or concepts [Noonan, Kenny, McGuinness (FF), AAA, Creighton/Renua, Taft, NERI]
            (iii) mis-portray financial arrangements by not providing all the facts (how did she justify her 7% rate? does she know how risk is priced?) [Murphy, Noonan, Wallace, Murphy, Doherty, McDonald, Ross].
            (iv) those who seek to solve everyone’s problem yet never have anyone pay for it [SocDems, FF, SF]

            Oddly, those I see with the most integrity are those on the far left – P Murphy, Clare Daly, Boyd Barrett.

            They’re nuts and their policies would knock the country back decades but at least they’re fairly consistent in their message and they make no bones about who will pay for their mad cap ideologies. They’re also smart, not electorally smart (Kenny, Martin, McDonald, McLoughlin) or arrogantly smart (Donnelly, Ross, Noonan) but actually smart and ask hard questions.

          2. Andy

            I should’ve included SF in more of those. They constantly misuse economic terms and pander for media attention.

    2. MoyestWithExcitement

      “She implies corruption or collusion but never ever had any evidence to back her claims up and will never make any of her key statements/accusations outside the dail.”

      That bit was also funny. Implication = statement now.

      1. Andy

        You’ve just confirmed my point:

        “I understand that Mr O’Brien was enjoying a rate of around 1.25%, when IBRC, and arguably, when IBRC could, and arguably should have been charging 7.5%. We are talking about outstanding sums here that are upwards of €500million. The interest rate applied is not an insignificant issue for the public interest.”

        Her statement was made in the Dail under Dail Privilege. She didn’t back that claim up with any evidence.

        And subsequently Pearse Doherty came out stating he’d seen papers stating readacted’s interest rate was 3%.

        So which one of them is telling the truth. Which one of them has backed up their claims with evidence? Which one of them has made statements outside Dail Privilege?

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          Catherine Murphy is the one telling the truth. She has asked questions. You’re trying to attack her character. You’re the first internet message board commenter I’ve come across that I do actually think is hired by the government.

          1. Andy

            The govt couldn’t pay me enough to work for them. For a start I’d breach the salary cap and secondly I think FG are as bad as the rest of them.

            Now, how do you know Murphy is telling the truth? Why isn’t Doherty telling the truth? How do we know either of them are telling the truth?

            I guess you’ve a hunch it’s Murphy cause she sounds all nice and earnest.

            Maybe she is telling the truth, but where’s her conviction? Why won’t she load up her evidence to drop box or broadsheet?

        2. Anne

          Eh, how about massive write offs, extended terms of loans, interest only payments, threats of legal action if verbal agreements of extended terms not given. Legal threats here, there and everywhere. Dept of finance concerns at IRBC/O’Brien dealings.
          Questions not answered from Noonan.

          There’s been plenty of evidence that’s come to the fore from Catherine Murphy’s claims.
          And Dail privilege had to be used because the media was on lock down due to legal threats.

          Trot along now… try your nonsense elsewhere.

          1. Andy

            Yeah, from your bland, vacuous comments you’re clearly well versed in company restructurings & capitalizations.
            You win.

        3. Fergalito

          How come we don’t know if she’s telling the truth or not? How can we find out what is and isn’t false? Why do we always have to roll around in the filth of speculation hurling gloopy matter at each other in the absence of good information? How come it’s those posing the questions, seeking answers and making valid enquiries that end up doused in ignorance? Does anyone know anything about what is substantively true and patently false?

          I’m using up my question mark quota on an almost daily basis. Won’t someone proclaim the truth!

    3. nellyb

      scrutiny of public expenditure = marxism, demand of accountability = marxsism…
      And dont even start me on the banking inquiry. That one is wrapped in red flags.
      If a pension fund gambled all Andy’s investments and didnt keep proper records Andy would have embraced it as capitalism. Perhaps even defended them.

      1. Anne

        “If a pension fund gambled all Andy’s investments”

        Don’t mind that muppet, the only investments Andy has is in the local off-license.
        Minding bananas and pears don’t pay that well either.

        1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

          Anne, there was a post yesterday with the word ‘Cock’ in it.
          I was very surprised to not see you on it.

          Some things you miss, eh?

      2. Andy

        If a pension fund twiddled away my investment I’d start by checking the facts. What are the facts presented here?

        – Hogan met someone from Abtran in Feb 2012
        – Abtran was awarded an Irish Water Call Center contract in July 2013 (not march 2013 like Murphy states)

        Now, that’s a 18 month gap.
        Not only is that an 18 month gap but the Irish Water Call Center contract wasn’t even put out to tender until October 2012 – 8 months after Abtran met with Hogan.

        I’d like Deputy Murphy or any of her groupies on here to link those 2 events.

        I’d also like her to extend her corruption charge to all those Public & Civil servants working in the procurement division of Ervia who according to her corruptly awarded the contract to Abtran over the 5 other bidders

        She’s not going to respond to any of that is she. Neither will AnneMarie McNally, neither will any of the groupies on here. Mainly because she has zero evidence to support her claim. She, like her colleague Donnelly is just looking for media attention in the run up to the election.

        If you wanted to bother your backsides and check the tender you can review the details on the website
        Identifier OCT396105 – Provision of Contact Centre Services for Irish Water

  5. Robby Cook

    are abtran not the same shower of cts that send you a bill for 149e for driving over a bridge that was paid for 25 years ago?

  6. Frilly Keane

    Dunno ’bout this rant now

    It’s flimsey enough
    And there’s a lot of “influenced by bias” going on

    That the Social Democrats are exploiting for air time
    Which is obvious by dropping in Phil Hogan whenever they can

    Could they be a one trick gig?
    Anyway Roisin Shortfall wouldn’t be slow about effing off on them if there’s too many hanging off her coat tails

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