herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Hogan facing questions over Irish Water millions

FINE Gael figures have dismissed renewed criticism of former minister Phil Hogan's handling of the establishment of Irish Water.

The country's new EU Commissioner has come under fire after it was claimed he had prior warning that tens of millions of euro was due to be spent on the external set-up of the semi-state quango.

There was public outrage earlier this year after Irish Water chief John Tierney revealed that €100m was being forked out in start-up costs, half of which was to be spent on consultancy.

The matter was immediately brought to the attention of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), whose members quizzed Mr Tierney over the costs.

But yesterday, RTE's This Week programme reported that Mr Hogan signed off on an internal department document which detailed the break-down of costs at Irish Water.

The programme further claimed that Mr Hogan subsequently told reporters that he wasn't aware of the specific spend despite signing off on the document.

Mr Hogan said in January, three months after he signed off on the documentation, that he "certainly knew" about the €180m cost of setting up the company, but did not know of the spend on consultants.

debacles

While the document did not specifically cite the consultancy spends, the Opposition has claimed that it has raised fresh questions over Mr Hogan's suitability as EU Commissioner.

"It is clear now that Phil Hogan has stood over too many debacles and should have resigned as Environment Minister and it is further evidence as to why he should not have been nominated for EU Commissioner by Enda Kenny," according to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

However, last night a senior Fine Gael source close to Mr Hogan dismissed any suggestions that his position as Commissioner is in jeopardy.

"This is just the Opposition being opportunistic. The then minister had reams of documents coming across his desk and acted appropriately."

Another source said Mr Hogan is no longer a minister and so no action will be taken.

hnews@herald.ie

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