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Dublin: 3 °C Thursday 14 November, 2019
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'You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs': Hogan defends Irish Water spending

The Environment Minister has been called on to resign by Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams today.

Phil Hogan speaking to reporters in Dublin today
Phil Hogan speaking to reporters in Dublin today
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER PHIL Hogan has defended his handling of the Irish Water controversy as he today faced calls to resign over the new State utility company’s €86 million spending on consultants, contractors and legal services.

Speaking to reporters this morning, Hogan repeated that he cannot and does not “micromanage” Irish Water and said that it has sufficient oversight from Oireachtas committees and the Commission for Energy Regulation.

“You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs,” he insisted when asked if it is a PR disaster, saying that the establishment of Irish Water will cost €180 million and will save €2 billion over the next eight years.

He said that Irish Water and its chief executive John Tierney’s explanations of the spending to TDs and Senators on the Oireachtas Environment Committee yesterday were “very good ones”.

“You cannot set up a new utility on fresh air,” he said. “And the people that are actually being critical of setting up a new entity will have to examine and tell the Irish people what cuts in expenditure and what increases in taxation that they were prepared to bring in in order to ensure that we have good quality water and good quantities of water in the years ahead.”

He said that while he was not aware of the specific €86 million spend on external services, but said he “certainly knew” about the €180 million cost of setting up Irish Water.

Asked about staff at the new utility being paid bonuses he said this is a matter for Irish Water and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

“[They are] people that actually decide public pay policy so the board of Irish Water were in negotiations and have resolved those issues based on the contracts that were offered to people at the time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams today called on Hogan to resign as minister saying that the government should abandon the “debacle” of water charges.

“He’s been involved in too many debacles,” Adams said.

Fianna Fáil stopped short of saying Hogan should go. The party’s environment spokesperson, Barry Cowen, said the minister is “sleepwalking his way into no confidence territory” saying his omelette and eggs reference was “ridiculous”.

The party is tabling a private members’ motion in the Dáil tonight which calls for Irish Water to be opened up to scrutiny under Freedom of Information, a change the government is willing and likely to implement, though Fianna Fáil says it should happen immediately.

Hayes: Bonus payments at Irish Water not justified

Read: Irish Water faces questions from Public Accounts Committee over funding

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Hugh O'Connell

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