Wednesday 20 September 2017

€14m office faces demolition as department 'not good at buildings'

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

WHEN he turned the sod three years ago on a state-of-the-art €14m office for the state pathologist, former Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said it would be "a world-class facility that will serve the operational needs" of the capital's pathologists and coroners for decades to come.

Now the project is facing the same grim prospect – demolition – as the Victorian City Morgue in Dublin it was meant to replace.

The death knell for the project was none other than developer Bernard McNamara, who was "NAMAed" in 2010 when the toxic loans agency appointed a receiver over his fallen empire.

By that stage the Department of Justice, as 70pc owner of the project which was due to be built on the site of the O'Brien Institute in Marino, had spent €2.8m.

Its junior joint-venture partner Dublin City Council was hit for €1m, costing the taxpayer some €4m.

By the time the department got around to a completely new tendering process, there was no money left in the jar.

"We had no option, our capital budget was cut," Secretary General Brian Purcell told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday.

Mr Purcell and Eileen Creedon, the chief state solicitor, came under sustained fire yesterday over its building policy after the PAC quizzed the duo on a €2m spend on an empty building it can not use.

"It seems to me that your (department) is not very good at buildings," quipped PAC chair John McGuinness TD, musing out loud that there appeared to be a "loose history" in relation to the department's management of properties. Mr Purcell denied the department was "cavalier" in its handling of properties.

Irish Independent

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