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Dublin: 14°C Tuesday 27 July 2021

Irish Water: No rules were broken when GMC Sierra won metering contract

TD Catherine Murphy has raised the issue in the Dáil on numerous occasions.

GMC/Sierra workers installing water meters in Donaghmede, Dublin.
GMC/Sierra workers installing water meters in Donaghmede, Dublin.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

IRISH WATER HAS denied that any rules were broken when its metering contract was awarded to GMC/Sierra last year.

Independent TD Catherine Murphy has raised the issue in the Dáil on several occasions, saying the Government has refused to answer her queries.

Earlier this week, the Taoiseach told her he would request clarification from Irish Water.

On Wednesday, the day of the latest anti-water charge protest, Murphy queried how GMC/Sierra was awarded the metering contract as it wasn’t registered as a company until 15 July 2013 – more than two weeks after the closing date for bids.

“We know that the bids had to be in by 30 June 2013. We know that one of the companies awarded one of the major contracts did not exist until 15 July, weeks after the closing date for bids. As such, I wish to ask some of the questions that I asked but to which I have not managed to get answers.

How could a company that did not satisfy the requirement to have a tax clearance certificate be considered for the contract?

No 2 CrokePark 2 Campaigns Catherine Murphy Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

A spokesperson for Irish Water told TheJournal.ie that at the time of the tender process both GMC and Sierra were “registered companies in their own right, in compliance with tax clearance rules”.

“They submitted a joint tender and after the tender was awarded, registered as a specific legal entity, namely GMC/Sierra, on July 15th. A condition of the award of the metering contract was that if the tenderer comprised a consortium, in this case GMC and Sierra, they would register as a specific legal entity.”

Under EU procurement rules, it is not permissible to require groups of economic operators, bidding together as a consortium, to assume a specific legal form before a tender is awarded.

“This is standard practice in procurement and fully compliant with EU procurement rules. All Irish Water metering contracts were awarded in full compliance with EU public procurement rules,” the spokesperson added.

‘A Watery Reply’

Murphy also asked Enda Kenny how a company owned by Denis O’Brien, Millington, was able to acquire Siteserv and thus GMC/ Sierra “at a significantly reduced cost, from Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC)”.

She said the State lost €105 million due to the deal, as it was the lowest bid on the table.

Kenny told Murphy: “As I recall, the only discussions we have had at Cabinet sub-committee meetings about that was that there would be regional contracts awarded for the installation of meters.

“And that those contractors would be entitled to employ subcontractors and that there would be a requirement that a 25% allocation would come off the live register, that is, people who might have been involved in the construction sector before.”

The Taoiseach said he would ask Irish Water for answers to her “very specific questions”.

“I hope we do not get a watery reply,” he added.

The spokesperson for Irish Water told us the company “cannot comment on issues relating to IBRC”.

Over 4,000 people are registering with Irish Water every day

WATCH: Clashes between gardaí and water charge protesters on O’Connell Bridge

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Órla Ryan

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