When Fianna Fáil requested information on the business case that saw Irish Water handed over to Bord Gais they received this 160 page document. Almost completely redacted.
Thomas Byrne brought it up in the Senate on November 24th when questioning Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Paudie Coffey:
“Thomas Byrne (Fianna Fail): When Fianna Fáil made a freedom of information request asking the Government to set out the business case for Irish Water we were presented with a 160-page document from Bord Gáis to the Department. I am showing this document for the cameras. Page 1 is blacked out. Page 2 is blacked out. The table of contents gives a flavour of what else is blacked out, because everything in it is blacked out, from page 4 to page 159. The whole thing was blacked out. I am showing it to the Visitors Gallery as well.
Jillian van Turnhout (Independent): You are not supposed to be doing that, Senator, although I have given you a little bit of leeway.
Paul Bradford (Independent): We cannot see it, it is okay.
Thomas Byrne (Fianna Fail): This is the reality. Seo í an chaoi atá sibh ag déileáil le hUisce Éireann. This is the way the Government has dealt with Irish Water from day 1. It is a disgrace and a shambles. Page 1 of the Government’s manifesto was about freedom of information but its idea of freedom of information is to black the whole thing out. Do not let them know what is going on because they might rise up and start asking questions. We can talk about cronyism – the Minister of State himself brought the whole thing to a ridiculous low by appointing a director of Irish Water as his personal driver who, I am sure, is a decent man.
John Gilroy (Labour): Senator Byrne is well qualified to speak about cronyism.
Thomas Byrne (Fianna Fail): I never heard of a director of a State board appointed as a ministerial driver.
Jillian van Turnhout (Independent): It is not relevant.
Thomas Byrne (Fianna Fail): There were jaws dropping all over this country when that was revealed. It is relevant because it is part of a pattern with Irish Water. There was a full investigation by the Daily Mailinto finding out who exactly another of the directors was, because they did not even know that and Irish Water would not give details. They did know that his forefathers fought on the Free State side in the Civil War and of course that was the important information for the Fine Gael Government. The Daily Mail could not even find out the individual’s name.
Let us talk facts and show what was served up to the public and what the public has rebelled against. Most disgraceful of all is the €700 million and more that has now been wasted. We are dealing with e-voting to the power of ten. The Government has thrown the meters into the ground and now said they are not going to use them because there will be a so-called capped charge, which is really a flat-rate charge. The meters have no purpose whatsoever. The Minister can say what he likes but the public is not buying it.”
Read the full exchange over here.