Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform: Select Sub-Committee on Finance

National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Bill 2014: Committee Stage

7:10 pm

Photo of Fergus O'DowdFergus O'Dowd (Louth, Fine Gael)
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All I can say is that raising one's voice does not make one's argument any weaker or stronger. It just makes one more strident. The reality is very clear. The legislation states that the agency shall, if a Minister who is the relevant Minister requests it to do so, provide a project manager to do certain acts. I am most familiar with Irish Water. That can never happen in terms of the sale of Irish Water. It can never be privatised. We put a lot of effort into ensuring that the legislation was perfected on that very issue because I acknowledged that it was a critical point, as the experience in the United Kingdom had been very bad.

As regards anything else NewERA does, it is the case that it can only act through the line Minister, who has ownership and accountability for the decision. NewERA does not make that decision. In terms of the Government making that decision, notwithstanding the point the Deputy made that it was good enough for me, a Government is elected as a result of having the majority in the Oireachtas. It is accountable to the Oireachtas. In the case of Irish Water, new legislation would be required to change the law and that would be a matter for a full debate. I cannot envisage any occasion on which a significant issue such as that would not be debated in the Oireachtas and voted on. That is my response.