Council says €5.5m ‘debt’ for Eyre Sq merely an accounting figureOctober 16, 2012 - 7:00am
By Dara Bradley
Galway City Council has insisted that there are no outstanding monies yet to be paid in respect of the controversial Eyre Square revamp project several years ago.
The local government auditor’s report, released this week and relating to 2011, noted that “there is a balance of €5.5 million to be funded on this project (Eyre Square Enhancement Project) at the end of 2011”.
But a spokesperson for Galway City Council insists all monies on the project are paid and that the €5.5 million alluded to in the report is there for ‘accountancy purposes’.
“The €5.5 million is a capital balance and will be funded out of future revenue streams,” he said. “It is purely accountancy – there are no outstanding bills in relation to Eyre Square. Nobody is waiting to be paid on this, it is an accountancy issue. Everybody who worked on Eyre Square has been paid.”
This week a long-term critic of the project, which started in 2004 and went pear-shaped in June 2005 when contractors Samuel Kingston abandoned the site, has called for a full Government investigation into how management at City Hall handled the whole affair.
There were legal proceedings between the Council and the contractor, as well as mediation, before a final settlement in November, 2011 when Samuel Kingston paid €150,000 to the Council to discharge a bond. There was no liability of admission by either side.
In his official response to the report, City Manager Joe O’Neill said: “The contractual dispute was resolved through a settlement in November 2011 and all payments and costs due under the settlement have been discharged”.
City Councillor Pádraig Conneely, an outspoken critic of City Council’s handling of the Eyre Square Enhancement Scheme, said the fact that €5.5 million has yet to be funded by the local authority is like ‘a monkey on the back’ of the Council. He is demanding a full investigation into the handling of the project which cost the city €15.3 million.
“The Eyre Square project was promoted by the Council and bad management decisions by senior Council management resulted in a cost to the city of €15.3 million with legal fees amounting to €1.6 million.
“I will be requesting that the Department of the Environment, which has responsibility for local government, fully investigates this project. Somebody should be held responsible. It is not acceptable that Eyre Square should cost €15.3 million with no accountability,” he said.
Cllr Conneely claimed he was ‘stonewalled’ by senior management every time he attempted to raise this issue over the past eight years.
“I was totally vindicated by the local government auditor who stated that the Eyre Square Enhancement Scheme cost the Council €15.3 million. Heads should roll and accountability should be more transparent,” he said.