herald

Monday 24 September 2018

Council told to scrap €30m Poolbeg plan

THE European Commission has called on Dublin City Council to terminate a multimillion euro contract relating to the stalled Poolbeg incinerator project.

The original value of the contract – for client representative and public relations services – was in the region of €8.3m.

However, it has cost the council some €30m since it was signed 12 years ago – a €20m overrun.

The Commission became involved in the issue as a result of a complaint to it by two residents in Sandymount, Joe McCarthy and Valerie Jennings.

OVERRUNS

Following a probe, the Commission wrote a letter in April of this year – the details of which have just come to light – calling on the contract to be terminated.

It is understood the council continues to honour the deal, though it has not made a comment on the matter. The original agreement between the authority and a consortium of RPS and a Danish company COWI was signed in 2001.

The revelations come after the local government auditor delivered a critical report last December on the management of the Poolbeg scheme to the council's audit committee.

Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy said the Commission's correspondence is "very significant for Dublin City Council".

"We saw overruns in almost every part of the contract itself. It seems that for client representative services, which we're talking about here, (there were) overruns of over 300pc or more," he said.

Speaking to the Herald, Mr Murphy, a member of the Dail's Public Accounts Committee, said he asked the Department of the Environment for a further breakdown of the figures but was told the department did not have them.

A council spokesman told the Herald: "We won't be able to respond today." RPS also did not reply to a request for a comment.

A letter from the Commission states: "Regarding the expansion of scope of the service contract for client representative and public relation services, the explanation provided by the Irish authorities (the council) did not address all of the concerns of the commission.

CONTRACT

"Therefore, the Commission called on the Irish authorities to terminate the contract, which appears to have been modified in a manner not conforming with EU law."

Fine Gael councillor Paddy McCartan said the authority informed him that the contract cost it €388,000 for the first two months of this year. He added that no information was available on the ongoing costs.

In response to a further question on the status of the arrangement, the answer he got was that the council was "in a contractual position with RPS/COWI", he said.

comurphy@herald.ie

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