1.a person who provides professional advice or expertise.2.a surrogate tit.
John Tierney is somehow waving, not drowning in Irish Water.
Criticism following the revelations that Irish Water – the semi-state body set up to provide and develop water services throughout Ireland – have spent fifty million euro on consultancy fees alone in the utility’s first twelve months, and ten years before it is due to assume full responsibility for delivery of services, begs an interesting question.
Has our culture of consultancy replaced the Irish Mammy for good?
In a country noted for eschewing personal responsibility at all costs, Irish men have traditionally been reluctant to extricate themselves from the comfort of the maternal bosom. Cutting themselves free from Mammy’s apron strings was never going to be an easy transition but it appears that as the once ubiquitous overbearing Irish Mammy retreats from public life, save for good old Mrs. Brown and a collection of witty books preserving her wisdom for future generations, a ready surrogate has already been found as chief executives, ministers, and senior management figures alike suckle at the consultant’s willing nipple.
The emergence of consultants as wet nurses for a ruling power elite, unwilling or unable to think, act or speak for themselves is a sad indictment of society in today’s ‘post-recession’ Ireland. For it appears that we are still reluctant to accept responsibility for previous misdemeanours or assume responsibility for our future governance.
Irish Water is merely an illustrative case in point.
The task of setting up the body is not insignificant. It is complex and the need for just such a utility – Ireland is the only OECD member that does not charge for it’s water – is not without urgency as Ming ‘I haven’t been on the telly all week’ Flanagan demonstrated when he presented junior minister Fergus O’Dowd with a glass of Roscommon’s finest tap water and challenged him to drink the ‘glorified piss‘.
But Irish Water and it’s over reliance on external consultants is merely another opaque layer constructed to obfuscate the transparency we all seek and which this government promised to deliver. Instead we are subjected to the sight of a minister, answerable to the government but who defers to any number of hired advisors, a regulator who ought to oversee the utility but is as surprised as anyone at the spending thus far, who is answerable to the minister but once again, defers to his own advisors, a utility which ought to have the expertise to fulfil it’s role but doesn’t so hires experts of it’s own to consult and whom are ultimately answerable to nobody and then contracts out work to the local authorities who become answerable to the utility as well while all the time being fully aware that, of course, no one is answerable to anyone because it’s always someone else’s fault. The utility, the minister, the local authority, the fact that Mammy didn’t hug me enough…
Irish Water’s current MD, John Tierney, will appear before the Oireachtas environment committee next week to face questions regarding the controversy. So far, Irish Water has defended the spending stating that by 2021, it would hope to have saved the exchequer two billion euro. Easy to say. Less so to deliver one would imagine and all the more incomprehensible if Mr Tierney’s past record is any indication of future success.
It must be remembered that the financial perspicacity which evidently so impressed his current employers had, while in a previous incarnation as chief executive of Dublin City seen ninety two million euro spent on the ill fated construction of the Poolbeg incinerator which was never constructed, in part due to the ineptitude of hiring consultants RPS at a cost of thirty two million euro, whose professional advice and expertise failed to foresee the illegality of such a venture and who were brought to their knees by Sandymount residents Joe McCarthy and Valerie Jennings who took their opposition to the European Commission.
We shouldn’t worry too much about the fate of those RPS consultants however, despite the embarrassment of the Poolbeg fiasco – two of those previously employed by the firm have now been given senior executive posts at, yep, you’ve guessed it… Irish Water.
Irish Water’s claim that the money spent thus far will result in savings long term on behalf of the taxpayer seem all the more ridiculous given it has subsequently revealed some of that money has been spent on an on site gymnasium for employees and on laughter therapy exercises for 600 staff in Croke Park.
Quite why Irish Water sought the need to hire a baseball cap wearing instructor to lead the group in discovering their ‘inner child’ is anyone’s guess. Presumably, John Tierney could have simply showed the audience the consultants fees to date in order to have the assembled throng capitulating in riotous, cathartic delirium.
Andrew S. Loveland’s ‘The Sound of Abundance of Rain‘ is available to buy in the Kindle store now.