Irish Water chief John Tierney to stand down in April
Irish Water have today confirmed that chief executive John Tierney will be standing down in April next year when his contract ends. In a statement, the company said:
“John Tierney has confirmed his intention to retire in April at the end of his three-year contract with Irish Water. He said he very much appreciated the opportunity to work on the establishment of Irish Water, one of the most challenging projects ever undertaken in the public sector.”
A spokesperson for the Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly said he had been informed of Mr Tierney’s decision earlier on Sunday. “The Minister would like to thank him for a long-standing career of public service at local authority and at State level.”
Mr Tierney, who is a former Dublin City Council manager, and has almost 40 years of public service experience. However controversy has dogged him since he became chief executive of the much-criticised utility, which was established to centralise and improve water services and introduce water charges to domestic users.
Public criticism was heaped on Mr Tierney after he admitted that €50 million of the company’s start-up costs were spent on consultants, and he later told the Oireachtas environment committee that Irish Water would spend around €85 million in total on consultants, in addition it emerged that staff at Irish Water would receive bonuses of up to 10 per cent of salary. These extra payments were suspended for 2013 and 2014.
Irish Water has rejected as “baseless” reports in the media that it is to begin an image rebranding. A spokesperson for the troubled water utility insisted there is no rebranding exercise under way and that there is no internal initiative to change the way the company presents itself to the public.
The water utility currently operates under service level agreements with 34 local authorities, and estimates it needs upwards of €13 billion to bring the water system in Ireland up to the best modern standards. It plans to invest just €5.5 billion in total capital spend up to 2021 to improve the network to an acceptable standard.
Irish water is aiming for savings and efficiencies including €370 million in payroll costs, with a 1,200 reduction in staff, centralised procurement procedures, centralised operations and changing work practices, with a total targeted saving of €1.1 billion.
Fianna Fáil environment spokesman Barry Cowen said: “Irish Water management and the Government need to understand one thing very clearly. Neither is likely to be in the positions they are in, in the spring of next year.”
He said the public did not want Irish Water to continue in the current vein and Fianna Fáil’s position was an intention to abolish Irish Water. “Irish Water’s continued existence is not a certainty”.
Anti-Austerity Alliance councillor Michael O’ Brien said the boycott of water charges was increasing pressure on Irish Water and the Government, and the AAA said 52 per cent of people had not paid their second water charges bill.
“If this level of boycott is maintained until the general election, it will mean that whatever government is elected will be under huge pressure not to rebrand Irish Water but to abolish the charges and the company altogether.”