Questions to answer on water meter purchase and contract procurement
By: Liam Deegan
IRISH WATER, DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL AND SIPTU – WHAT YOU WILL NEVER SEE ON RTE
New information has come to light regarding the story that former Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan had spun about the government’s refusal of an offer from Siemens for the funding of the water metering programme.
What you are about to read has been substantiated with the exception of one thing – the actual number of water meters involved. However sources close to Dublin City Council say that there were many thousands of meters involved, which also means that the amount paid for the meters is also unknown save to say that there was a couple of million Euro involved in the sale.
It is also interesting to note that there was no public tender for purchase of the meters which is in direct contravention of EU regulations however this is corrupt Ireland so that shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone!
There are some serious questions that need to be asked of Phil Hogan and John Tierney as there is clear evidence mounting of serious misconduct into how taxpayer’s money was used.
The reason Phil Hogan had publicly refused to discuss the offer of funding from Siemens now appears to have been that the water meters were already in the country having been purchased earlier in the year. Siemens had originally offered to fund the installation of the meters in 2010 but with the failing of the Fianna Fail / Green government of the day, the option was never pursued by the then minister for the Environment, John Gormley and was then “ignored” by Hogan in favour of setting up Irish Water. Prior to this, Gormley had wanted to roll out the metering programme in favour of the Siemens offer and had actively encouraged the then Finance Minister Brian Lenihan to meet with Siemens to discuss the matter which as history tells, never took place.
In what appears to be a smokescreen, officials from Hogan’s office attended a meeting with Siemens in November 2010. Allegedly the talks between the parties was about smart metering for electricity and water metering. It is further alleged that officials from Minister Hogan’s department subsequently met with Siemens in February 2012, regarding the water metering programme. Department officials stated that no proposal was received by the Department from Siemens in relation to the water metering programme or its funding and that is why the Siemens deal never went ahead..
However, sources close to the Department reliably inform us that the meeting was more about energy smart metering rather than water metering considering that the government had already purchased water meters from Siemens, therefore it is highly doubtful that Siemens would be looking to sell water meters twice.
We know that the government spin is just that…Spin. Now read on!
DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL AND JOHN TIERNEY
In 2011 it is alleged that Dublin City Council under John Tierney’s management, purchased water meters from Siemens in Germany in advance of Irish Water being setup. Paid for, the meters were shipped from Germany and were then delivered directly to the Council’s city centre storage facility on Marrowbone Lane which is just off Thomas Street in Dublin 8 and sat in storage until a few weeks prior to the actual installations of domestic metering began.
Subsequently it is alleged that the water meters were handed over to Irish Water by Dublin City Council and were then shipped off to an unknown location thereafter. However sources have said that the primary contractor received the meters and stored them for distribution and sale to their sub contractors for use in the domestic metering programme.
In light of the above information there was one missing link… SIPTU!
SIPTU were involved in the whole debacle from day one. It came to light that SIPTU were aware of the water meters and were in secret negotiation with the Dept of the Environment and Dublin City Council to initially allow Council workers to install the meters but the plan never came to fruition due a disagreement over conditions and extra pay. SIPTU Shop stewards were to sell the plan to the workers but the workers held firm for the extra pay and better conditions according to sources and subsequently Hogan’s department refused to sanction extra funding for the Council to do the installations.
The whole refusal to deal with the workers may have been a smoke screen as Hogan needed the unions on board from the outset, with Tierney and more than likely SIPTU playing the game in the full knowledge that the final outcome was the setting up of Irish Water… ideally with no union involvement or obstruction to hinder them going forward!
This leaves a lot of unanswered questions that Phil Hogan, John Tierney and SIPTU chief Jack O’Connor all have to impart to the taxpaying public, just like the ones set out below:
1. Why was there no public tender for the purchase of the water meters and why the secrecy by Hogan when asked about the Siemens offer? Was it because the Department had already secretly purchased several million Euro worth of meters already?
2. Bearing in mind that there were no loopholes in the tendering process that allowed an EU government to bypass the EU regulations for under the table purchases such as the water meters, who authorised the purchase of the meters for Dublin City Council in clear contravention of EU rules?
3. Did the knowledge of the purchase extend to cabinet level with Messrs Kenny and Noonan being aware and being complicit in what is potentially an illegal act in the EU tendering process regulations?
4. How was the funding for the meters to Dublin City Council covered without any questioning from the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Council’s internal and external auditors?
5. Why did SIPTU enter secret talks with Dublin City Council and the Department of the Environment and why have they not spoken up about the current sham that is Irish Water, having been involved from the outset? What else have the union got to hide on the matter?
6. Why there was no objection by SIPTU to non unionised workers installing the meters, with the majority not even being Irish workers? Would it have been that SIPTU didn’t want to publicly acknowledge their part in knowing about the water meters being here in the first place?
7. How many water meters were purchased, how much was paid for the meters and where is the paperwork that accompanied the purchase, being held… DCC offices in Wood Quay or the Department of the Environment?
8. What pressure was brought to bear on Siemens to withdraw their offer, was it directly from the German government themselves or at the behest of the Irish government or was the pressure more local in that Denis O’Brien had purchased Siteserv /GMC Sierra and that ex-Minister Hogan had that plan in mind all along to use Siteserv /GMC Sierra to do the metering programme and not give the German company a chance to tender or even consider Siemens offer?
9. John Tierney signed off on the water meters on behalf of the Council and knew that no tender had been put into place so will Mr Tierney now acknowledge his part in the affair by resigning?
10. Did John Tierney offer the water meters to Irish Water’s primary contractor before the start of the actual installations or was it an order from the Department of the Environment under Hogan and had this action been part of the plan from the outset and how much did Irish water pay for the already public funded water meters?
11. How much did the Irish Water pay for the water meters and can Dublin City Council provide the invoices for the sale?
12. How much did the contractors to Irish Water pay for the water meters and can Irish Water provide the invoices for the sale?
13. As the minister responsible for the metering programme from the beginning, will Mr Hogan issue a statement outlining his role in the secret importation of the water meters and his silence on the Siemens deal?
14. Will SIPTU also issue a statement outlining their involvement in the secret talks between the Dublin City Council and the Department of the Environment?
15. What contemporaneous notes or minutes were kept of the meetings between the union, DCC and the Department of the Environment and will these notes be made public?
16. And finally, a question that the government, the Department of the Environment, Irish Water and Denis O’Brien’s Siteserv / GMC Sierra have consistently refused to answer other than throw in curveballs when confronted with the question… How exactly did GMC SIERRA Ltd win water metering installation contracts with no tax clearance certificate AND not be in existence prior to and during the tendering process ?
Defies logic, Mr Tierney, defies logic!
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