'We Make Our Money On Our Reputation’

Elizabeth Arnett, the current spokesperson for Irish Water and former spokesperson for RPS Consulting Engineering

Elizabeth Arnett, the current spokesperson for Irish Water and former spokesperson for RPS Consulting Engineering

On RTÉ Radio One’s This Week programme yesterday, journalist John Burke reported that, after five years and €2.2million in legal fees paid by Dublin City Council, the council has dropped its Supreme Court appeal against a High Court judgement made by Mr Justice Liam McKechnie in 2010.

In his judgement, Judge McKechnie found RPS Consulting Engineering – which had been hired by Dublin City Council to carry out a review of Dublin’s waste policy – had altered official data and waste reports to suit Dublin City Council’s agenda.

He also heavily criticised the then assistant city manager Matt Twomey.

In his ruling, Judge McKechnie said:

“In the course of the hearing, a number of draft reports, prepared by RPS and Dr Francis O’Toole were handed up to the court which contained comments written by the respondents indicating which parts of earlier drafts were acceptable to them and either deleting or rewording those parts which would not have supported their position. Whether or not the city managers were aware of this fact is, in my opinion, immaterial. Mr Twomey certainly was. Such massaging of reports which were later, in their edited versions, released publicly is a strong indicator to me of unacceptable influence in a process supposedly carried out in the public interest. Some view must have been formed in order for the process to start. However, in my opinion, the actions of the respondents in this case, and particularly Mr Twomey, go far beyond this. The indicator rigidity of mind so that from the start there could have been no other outcome. This is particularly serious, notwithstanding any subsequent public consultation. It is clear that such consultation not only did not have, but could not have had any affect on the outcome of the the variation process. It was a given from the start.”

On yesterday’s programme, Mr Burke played a clip from RPS’s then spokesperson, Elizabeth Arnett – the current Head of Communications and Corporate Service at Irish Water – after the ruling was made.

She told RTÉ’s Prime Time:

“RPS were certainly not massaging the figures and I want to categorically refute that. In producing a final report, you produce drafts and you edit and you consult with your client, to make sure you get the right result, that is the way we produce reports. That you get a report, that the figures can stand up. The Environmental Protection Agency can approve, the EPA can approve and all of the statue bodies can approve…We stand over all of the reports. We would never change fact and we would never change our opinion. We might reword, we might delete, we might sharpen up text, to edit it. We would never change fact and we would never change opinion. We make our money on our reputation to be able to provide facts and to provide opinion. I think the entire judgement is wrong.”

Readers will recall that, in November 2013, it emerged Dublin City Council had paid more than €30 million to RPS for its services over the previous ten years in relation to the Poolbeg incinerator, even though the council’s contract with RPS was originally estimated at €8.3million.

The European Commission eventually found that the contract did not conform with EU law.

Readers may also wish to recall that Jerry Grant, a former managing director of RPS from 2002 until 2012, is now Irish Water’s head of asset management.

There you go now.

Listen back in full here

Council drops appeal against Poolbeg incinerator judgment (Irish Times)