Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (379)

Mattie McGrath


379. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he at any time perceived a serious conflict of interest arising over the practice of senior local authority executives, active or retiring, transferring to the new utility company, Irish Water, on substantial new salaries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15272/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Water Services Act 2013 provided for the establishment of Irish Water as a subsidiary of Bórd Gáis Éireann to be formed and registered under the Companies Act.

A fundamental underpinning of the water reform programme is to ensure that the skills and experience built up over many years in local authorities are put to best use for the long-term benefit of the customer and that there is no negative impact on service to customers during the transition. The Water Services (No.2) Act 2013 transferred statutory responsibility for water services to Irish Water and provided for local authorities to act as agents for Irish Water, with this relationship being expressed through Service Level Agreements. Staff in local authorities conducting work under these arrangements from 1 January 2014 remain employees of local authorities. As such, no staff transferred from local authorities or from other public sector positions to Irish Water. Any employees of Irish Water who came from the local authority sector or from the public service sector immediately prior to taking up a post with Irish Water applied for advertised posts and were recruited through a competitive process.  

Irish Water is currently recruiting to build up its internal capabilities and the number of staff employed is an operational matter for the organisation. It was agreed by the Steering Group for the Water Sector Reform Programme that, to ensure skills within the sector were fully availed of in building up the new organisation, competitions for positions in asset management, capital delivery and operations would be restricted to staff in the partner organisations i.e. Bord Gáis Éireann, local authorities and my Department in the first instance. Open competitions are held for all other positions and details of these are available on Irish Water's website www.water.ie.

Staff taking up employment in Irish Water are not entitled to avail of the 2013 local authority voluntary redundancy scheme, under the terms of that scheme. I understand that no other restrictions apply to public service workers taking up employment through competitive competition in State companies.