TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has faced questions on the controversy surrounding the cost of establishing Irish Water at the first Leaders’ Questions of 2014 this afternoon.
Responding to questions from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and the Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, Kenny insisted that the new State utility company will be “subject to the full rigours of Freedom of Information”.
He also said: “Let me be clear about this, Irish Water will be subject to the proper responses in this House by the Minister for Environment to parliamentary questions.”
Kenny said he had been aware of the overall cost of setting up Irish Water of €180 million but did not say whether he was aware that €86 million of this will go towards consultants, contractors, and legal services.
Martin said the Taoiseach’s response had been “absolutely disgraceful” and said the Environment Minister Phil Hogan “did not want to tell the truth”.
Micheál Martin said the Dáil and the Irish citizens “have been treated with contempt”.
“I’ll make it clearer for you again, Irish Water will be subject to the full rigours of the FOI Act, from its inception last year,” Kenny insisted, adding: “This is about transparency about accountability”
Adams accused the government of having “obstructed the Dáil by concealing its knowledge on the expenditure involved in the establishment of Irish Water”.
He asked if the Taoiseach would ask Minister Hogan to resign over the issue.
“No, is the answer to that question,” Kenny said while also insisting that Irish Water will remain in State ownership.
“This utility is not being privatised, this is being held in public ownership, by decision of the government, in the interests of the Irish people,” he added.
Earlier, Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd told the Dáil that there has not been any decision on “the level of or the approach to the free allowance” for water usage when charges are introduced towards the end of this year.