On 15 January the Taoiseach said to me and the House:
This is a public utility in public ownership. Therefore, there is nothing that should be secret about it and there is nothing that will be secret about it.
That was in respect of the establishment of Irish Water. It is fair to say that everything has been secret about Irish Water and that over the past 12 to 15 months, the Government has done everything it possibly can to prevent the truth from coming out and to prevent a fully comprehensive debate around the issue of establishing Irish Water. Everything has been secret about the cost of the establishment of Irish Water until recently when we learned through radio interviews that it was €180 million. The cost of the transition office was a closely guarded secret until the weekend when we found out that approximately €8 million was spent on setting up the transition office. The cost of establishing Irish Water under the aegis of Bord Gáis Éireann has been a well-kept secret. Despite the Government getting advice to the contrary, it decided to do it this way with vast costs. The cost and content of the service level agreements have also been kept a closely guarded secret. Now we are told they can add €2 billion to the cost of the establishment of Irish Water.
All of this will result in higher charges for the public. However, the public will not be told what they have to pay in water charges because that will be a closely guarded secret as well until well beyond the local elections and into next year. Then, the regulator will be put in, superimposed, as a basis for not giving the people any sense of how much water will cost them because of the excessive nature of the establishment of Irish Water and the costs involved.
Last week I asked the Taoiseach if he knew that retired county managers and senior public servants were moving seamlessly into Irish Water and if he thought it was in order for them to do so, even though they may have enjoyed generous severance and pension packages. The Taoiseach said he did not know. However, he must have known and it is inconceivable that he did not know and that he did not speak to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Hogan, about it. We know now that one such county manager received approximately €336,000 in a generous package before moving to Irish Water. Lo and behold, the same individual headed up the transition office. The transition office decided how many people got jobs at senior management level and that same person got a senior job in Irish Water. The people who wrote to us from outside of the loop, local authorities and Bord Gáis-----