Who Is Running Water?

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Further to reports that Irish Water spent €16million on extending its lease – by 10 years – at its Colville House, Talbot Street, Dublin 1 HQ.

Three days after the general election.

Niamh Brennan, the Michael MacCormac professor of management and academic director of the UCD Centre for Corporate Governance, writes in today’s Irish Times:

As it is, the governance of Irish Water is unusual, in that it is structured as a wholly owned subsidiary of another State body, Ervia (formerly Bord Gáis Éireann).

Initially, the board of Irish Water comprised 14 directors, of whom 10 were independent non-executive directors (ie, they did not work in Irish Water on a day-to-day basis) and four were executive directors.

Then, the minister for the environment at that time, Alan Kelly announced he would be putting in place a new unitary board, combining Irish Water and parent company Ervia.

…By the end of November 2014, all the non-executive directors were gone, leaving Irish Water with a solely executive board, comprising (according to the 2014 financial statements) Michael McNicholas, chief executive of the parent company, Ervia; John Tierney, managing director of Irish Water; Brendan Murphy, Ervia group finance director; and Michael O’Sullivan, Ervia group commercial regulatory director.

Thus, there is currently no direct non-executive oversight of these four executive directors on the board of Irish Water. Instead, Irish Water is subject to the control and oversight by the board of Ervia, its parent company.

The position of chairman of Ervia is currently vacant, following Rose Hynes’s resignation in October 2015. How can the board of Ervia be operating effectively without a chairman?

In November 2015, Irish Water announced that John Tierney would be stepping down as managing director at the end of April 2016.

Who is Irish Water’s managing director now? Does Irish Water currently have a managing director?

There is a large section on Ervia’s website on transparency, including web pages for Ervia and Irish Water board meeting minutes. These web pages are empty. Transparency indeed.

Lifting lid on Irish Water reveals unusual governance (Niamh Brennan, Irish Times)

Related: Irish Water extended HQ lease by 10 years in €16m deal (Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Irish Examiner)

30 thoughts on “Who Is Running Water?

  1. Yeah, Ok

    Irish Water just cannot win.

    There are 14 directors of Irish Water: “Waawaawaa why are we paying all these rich white men to waawaawaa”
    There are 4 Directors: “OMG who is even running this company this is a disgrace”

    One of the shinners after the election was asked what she wanted to see instead of Irish Water and so proceeded to describe a body to do exactly what Irish Water does, but finished with “…but not Irish Water in its current form”. WHAT THEN??

    Irish Water have already identified huge leaks and problems with Ireland’s water services and infrastructure. IT’S DOING ITS JOB.
    If water charges are scrapped, the money WILL be recouped elsewhere, in a less fair way. Water charges were an opportunity for people to control their own rates, yet the whinging minority tore it down.
    I’m neither a Fianna Fail voter or Fine Gael, but the leftards in AAA and PBP claim they speak for the people when they can’t even outpoll those d*ickheads who ruined the country.
    Even after selling out to Fine Gael, Labour were our only realistic left-leaning alternative. Now that they’ve been made the scapegoats for the status quo doing what they always do, I say f*ck yis all, you deserve it.

    Ranting is fun.

    1. some old queen

      Irish Water is doing its job? Err no it is not.

      All the infrastructure projects so far were managed by the local authorities because that is who signed the contracts. Sure they identified a few public sided leaks but they really are very minor in comparison to what is disappearing off the network. The rest is billing which is now redundant.

      In this case however, Irish Water are right not to appoint a new head until its future is known and at the moment it is really not looking good. The ship is sinking.

      1. Steve

        34 million litres, or 2% of production, or enough to supply Wicklow, since 2014, is a “few public sided leaks”??

        Tell me oh engineering wise one what should be done? Hand the work and operation back to the local authorities??

        1. some old queen

          2% is minor in comparison to 50% surely?

          The work and operation still remains within the LAs as they are the ones who go out and fix things and that will remain so. But in answer to the rest of your question, I honestly don’t know what the best solution is but I am pretty sure Irish Water is not it. So here is a question right back at you.

          If the roads could be upgraded without these crazy setup and administration costs then why not water? What is the difference?

          1. Steve

            Local and national roads are still the responsibility of the local authorities. And they are still in a heap, and the quality of such roads varies from LA to LA. Motorways are the responsibility of the NRA , a single national body. Which got lots of EU money since 2000 coz new shiny motorways get votes. If only water services was as sexy and equally recognised as needed for economic and social development from the Irish political class. Maybe it will now.

            The LAs carry out the work but they are now scheduled for work activities efficiently by Irish water. So instead the lads in the van going out to fix a pipe in baldoyle and then back to depot and then back to Sutton, they do Sutton then baldoyle then depot. Little changes in practices likes that save a lot of money.

            Leakage is not as simple as that. The target is not to get to 0%. There is a term called sustainable economic level of leakage. There is a point on the system when it actually costs more to repair leaks than to produce that extra litre of drinking water. In GB this level is around 20%. Its probably around the same here. So the target reduction from 50 to 20 is 30. 2% out of 30% in 18 months isn’t bad. But maybe you have benchmark data from a similar system with little to no telemetry / SCADA network like ours to say otherwise??

          2. some old queen

            @ steve. So to summarise what you are saying. Irish Water operate a call centre where people report issues but the LA’s do the actual operations and work. And that is not going to change now is it?

            Maybe you would like to declare your interest in Irish water Steve? Actually don’t bother, I can spot the spin a mile off. I have one thing to say to you.

            The real issue with Irish water is trust. The general public do not trust it. And people coming onto sites like this while not declaring a vested interest is downright deceitful. It is not helping your cause in any shape or form.

          3. Sheik Yahbouti

            He’s on every forum saying the same thing, some old. Right out of the FG ‘frape room’ of song and story.

          4. some old queen

            @ Sheik. He or she is an Irish water employee. Disgraceful behaviour. The only message they are getting ‘out there’ is that the provision of a utility service will tick along quite nicely without Irish Water.

            Politicians now knuckle fight over who pays but none of them ask what is the most cost effective way of upgrading the network.

            Journalists do your job please?

        2. dan

          “Hand the work and operation back to the local authorities??”
          This is still with the local authorities. All IW has done is add another level of management.

      2. Yeah, Ok

        See my reply to Eoin below re neglect of the infrastructure. €13 billion of neglect. I would suggest local authority management was not efficient. Raw sewage being dumped into the sea, “a few public sided leaks” (up to half of all fresh water is lost through leaks), crumbling treatment plants (119 plants at risk of failing to meet safety standards), up to a million homes at risk of water contamination. Do you think this stuff points at effective management by local authorities?

        1. some old queen

          I think it points at a serious lack of funding over decades to local authorities yes.

    2. Martina

      Nasty rubbish. Tierney sailing off into the sunset with a fortune for failing in another job. Joke!

    3. DubLoony

      Excellent rant, well done!
      Part of me is praying for a burst water main in Ballyfermot just to watch SF & PBP TDs duke it out on the blame game.

  2. Eoin

    It’s doing it’s job? What’s the job? To prepare the entire water infrastructure for sale? They couldn’t even manage that. Is there no oversight on this company at all? You’d think they’d keep a low profile on the spending while it’s under scrutiny? But no. Irish Water seems to be spending money like crazy, almost like the government has no control over it? It’s also acting like they know it’s days are numbered, so they must blow their budget now. Probably stuffing pals pockets for no bid contracts. Seems to be the entire purpose of this disgusting, corrupt entity. No doubt this will all come out in some expensive inquiry into Irish Water down the line.

    1. Polaroid Fluid

      it’s the public sector way, stuff it with unionised dead wood and incompetent arrogant managers and pay everybody outlandish rates until it all has been bled dry. Privatisation would be a blessing in fairness, see how transdev is fighting its corner against the Siptu thugs.

      1. Robert

        And being outmanoeuvred at every turn. Even with some astonishing gaffes.

        Irish Water only enshrines the “public sector” way of doing things in a private body, within a monopoly, protected by a regulator without an “affordability” mandate. The costs of inefficiency will be slavishly passed on to customers who don’t have the benefit of a competitive marketplace.

    2. Yeah, Ok

      Yes it’s doing its job. Which given the current level of neglect of the water infrastructure will involve spending money. Lots of money. €13 billion minimum. Do you think scrapping charges for that means they’ll just magic the money from somewhere other than us taxpayers? It’s a state utility, they don’t make profits. They’re there to spend government money on things that need doing.
      Another aspect of the household water charge was so people would realise, despite their wilful ignorance, that water is not free. In fact it’s pretty damn expensive to get to your tap. But no, it’s a human right so just carry on and piss it around the place if you want, shur it does be raining half the time anyway.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        “It’s a state utility, they don’t make profits. They’re there to spend government money on things that need doing.”

        Are you implying that a foreign multinational got involved with Irish Water for a purpose other than making money?

  3. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

    I think the key point to mention is that this was a key piece of quality balanced journalism by the IT.

    Readers are invited to contrast and compare this approach to inquiring into matters of public interest with the slovenly, derivative, biased, brazenly incompetent and unfunny slops served here by Anne Marie McNally, dr Mercille, Frilly Keane et al.

  4. Eoin

    We live in a Eurozone where they are about to pass a trade deal that few have even read. Those that have read it are gagged from speaking about it. Smell the rot? The only information we have about it is how bad it is for everyone. Yet it’s going to be passed. Similarly pretty much every market has been found riddled with manipulation in recent years. ALL markets!!! From currencies to precious metals, the fines have been issued. Just do a search for banks fined for manipulating currency markets etc, etc. We’ve also just seen Greece stripped of her state assets for daring to say no to the EU. So with all this asset grabbing, general corruption everywhere, our institutions working against us and for the rich elite…we are supposed to just ignore the stench of corruption off Irish Water and let it get on with it’s ‘job’? Give it the benefit of the doubt? I think that’d be foolish. The days of automatically trusting our politicians and institutions TO REPRESENT OUR INTERESTS have gone. Everyone needs to wake up to that as soon as possible. Because as long as we trust them we are just being useful idiots.

  5. Mulder

    Who or rather what is running, the water is running down the drains due to the numerous leaks.
    If see irish water coming then run as it usually means a flood.
    The bleeding Titanic had fewer leaks though at its core had a big gaping hole.

  6. Mulder

    The big gaping hole at its core, is actually various numerous ass holes who have once gain combined, to form one big, hole, worthy of the name.

  7. Truth in the News

    Irish Waters infrastructure is still under local authority control, all that happened
    that the water services division of the Dept of the Environment was hived off
    into Irish Water with an additional layer of flunkeys….in other words 2 or 3 more
    were added to the 2 allready there under local authority auspices, the people
    spoke in February, those clinging on to power would do well to take heed of them.

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