Minister Humphreys denies state losses worth millions over Galway Arthouse Cinema fiasco – Peadar Tóibín TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Culture Peadar Tóibín TD has said that he finds Minister Humphreys’ claims that no state money was lost on the Galway Arthouse cinema “incredulous”.
Minister Humphreys was speaking today during the Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Committee of which Deputy Tóibín is chair.
An Teachta Tóibín said:
“This financial fiasco happened under the watch of the Department and huge losses have been incurred. Since its inception in 2006, €8.4 million of public funds have been allocated to the project."The cost of the project has crept up incrementally by the millions – which was detailed in a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG).
“This project was expected to cost the public €5.35 million in 2006. This climbed to €6.3 million the following year. By March 2011 the Department were told that the project had to be scrapped for reasons including “poor ground conditions” and “design inadequacies”.
“That year a second construction contract was awarded to the Solas – the private company who originally took charge of the project. The Department stated that this was done without its knowledge or consent.
"The Department was in financial partnership with a private company and that that company would issue contracts a second time for the construction of a building which had been proven to be on poor ground with poor design – would show that the Department wasn’t in charge of the funds that it was giving.
“Under this contract the planned cost of construction increased by €1.3 million. The following year the company said that it was short another €1 million worth of funding.
"The C&AG found that the amount of public funds committed to the project increased by €2.1 million from the initial outlay of €6.3 million.
“The cinema is due to open early next year but at great cost. And the Department have to shoulder much of the responsibility for money squandered.
"The Comptroller and Auditor General’s report states that “there was no initial oversight arrangement in place for this project at the outset.”
“The Minister is clearly all over the place on this issue. She incredulously stated that the 'Department has not lost any money on this project' while acknowledging the Departmental dig out in the same breath, saying 'I committed then to give them further funding at that stage. They already had two million. That was gone.'
“The role of the Minister is to remain accountable for her departments. Here we see a structural failure which the Department is not willing to admit let alone deal with adequately.
"Clearly this has occurred in more than just this case. Honesty is needed - admission of liability is needed and structural overview is a necessity in order to prevent such poor oversight culminating in major financial loss to the public purse to happen again.”