Council threat to sue department over €8.5m bill for pier revamps
A COUNTY council is threatening legal action against a government department over an €8.5m bill.
It relates to refurbishment works carried out on two piers on the Aran Islands.
Galway County Council claims the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht owes it an additional €8.5m for the works. However, it has been informed by the department that the money would not be made available.
The department insists that it has paid out all the grant money earmarked for the project and it would not be covering any overspend. It stressed that its only obligation was to pay the original contract sum.
"Work on the piers was undertaken by contractors that were engaged by Galway County Council as a result of a public procurement process. The works were grant-aided by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. These grants have been fully paid to Galway County Council," said a department spokesperson.
"As the possibility of legal action has been raised, it would not be appropriate for the department to make any further comment at this time."
The newly constructed pier at Kilronan on Inis Mor cost €48.2m, while refurbishment works on Caladh Mor pier on Inis Meain cost €19.1m. Each pier was more than €4m over budget.
The council says its financial commitment to the projects was €190,000 per pier and at no stage did it expect to be left with any additional cost.
County manager Martina Maloney has revealed that the council has not ruled out taking legal action to retrieve the money. She described the move by the department as "unprecedented", insisting all works had been carried out in good faith.
Mayor of County Galway, Tom Welby, described the row as a "very serious situation".
"We think it's a complete breach of trust and there are serious concerns among councillors that we won't be able to carry this deficit," he added.