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Irish Water boss apologises to customers

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John Tierney of Irish Water

John Tierney of Irish Water

Mayor of Drogheda Kevin Callan

Mayor of Drogheda Kevin Callan

John Tierney of Irish Water

IRISH Water boss John Tierney has apologised to customers for the first time.

The CEO of the embattled company conceded it had made mistakes and said he is keen to ensure improvements are made.

His comments come after he was forced to meet Environment Minister Alan Kelly for the second time about the ongoing saga.

Mr Tierney moved to his €200,000-a-year job from his previous role as Dublin City Manager.

"I want to apologise to our customers for mistakes that have been made," he said.

investment

"This is all about people and having a good quality water supply, having the ability to cater for population growth, to cater for economic development and ensuring that we can create jobs.

"Having the ability to have a clean water supply is critical for both indigenous and foreign direct investment."

Mr Tierney met with minister Alan Kelly after a weekend of mass protests nationwide.

He took up his post at Irish Water in January last year after serving as Dublin City Manager, where he oversaw the early stages of the controversial Poolbeg Incinerator project. The taxpayer has committed at least €150m to the much-delayed development.

In 2012 Mr Tierney was forced to apologise after a report from the Local Government Auditor found that project management at the Poolbeg Incinerator project was "weak" and "not adequate".

Mr Tierney has previously been forced to deny that his current job at Irish Water was under threat due to divisive costs, the proposal to pay controversial bonus payments and a reluctance by the public to sign up for water billing.

However, Mr Kelly said he is confident that Mr Tierney is the man to turn Irish Water around.

"I believe that the scale of this project is huge. From an administration point of view it is the largest utility in the history of the state," said the minister.

"The way in which he has had to deal with it in terms of the estimations and time-scale of it was totally wrong and I have absolute confidence in the man."

More than 150,000 people took to the streets nationwide at the weekend despite bad weather, and Mr Kelly believes the Government would have to be held accountable.

However, in a thinly-veiled dig at previous Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, who was responsible for establishing Irish Water before assuming a seat as Ireland's EU Commissioner in Brussels, Mr Kelly denied responsibility for how Irish Water has been run to date.

"I was not part of the Government at the time, I was not in the Cabinet so I was not responsible for those decisions, but I am responsible for getting it right and I am determined to do so," he said.

wrong

"There were absolute mistakes made in relation to the scale of this project.

"This is the largest utility that is ever going to be created in the history of the State and the concept or idea that this could be set up in a couple of years was wrong."

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton has described water charges as an "anti-austerity measure" that allows for job creation and investment.

Asked if he still had confidence in Mr Tierney, Mr Bruton said he did not find fault with people who admit mistakes and resolve to correct them.

hnews@herald.ie


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