I think “public procurement” is the ruling idea currently in the Irish Water revelations. The company is changing the description of the subject of the contracts which it first said were “consultancy” contracts.
Now, it says they are “provision of services” contracts.
In either event, those contracts are, clearly, of great value and easily qualify for mandatory use of public procurement procedures.
It is illegal to award contracts without using the proper and appropriate public procurement procedures.
The Department of Finance says there is an exceptional procedure which can be used:
“Contracting authorities negotiate, without advertising, the terms of the contract directly with one or more parties. This is a departure from the core principles of openness, transparency and competition and is a very exceptional procedure”
“It should be noted that definitions of ‘exceptions’ and ‘urgency’ are strictly interpreted by the Commission and the Courts. Factors giving rise to urgency must be unforeseeable and outside the control of the contracting authority. Where one of these exemptions is invoked, the contracting authority must be able to justify the use of the exemption”