Stadium decision now looks rushed
Published 08/04/2015 | 02:30
No one can deny that Páirc Uí Chaoimh is a stadium badly in need of redevelopment.
Cramped seating and chaotic tunnels are just two bugbears GAA fans have long held about at the Leeside ground.
However, question marks have emerged over the manner in which public money was pledged towards the €70m project.
The GAA lobbied ministers long and hard to secure the promise of €30m from Government.
An announcement was made just ten days before last May's local and European elections after what now appears to have been a rushed Cabinet decision.
It is hard not to be cynical about the timing. While Labour was badly placed to capitalise on it, the announcement did Fine Gael no harm, with both former GAA president Sean Kelly and Cork city-based Deirdre Clune securing election to the European Parliament.
Mr Kelly claimed credit for being "instrumental in garnering Government support" for the project.
Now, almost a year on, it appears the public spending code did not kick in until after the announcement was made.
This is the set of rules used by the Department of Public Expenditure to appraise taxpayer funded projects. The code states that projects over €20m should be subject to a cost benefit analysis before being approved.
When the Irish Independent sought access to any economic feasibility study considered by the Government before it sanctioned the funding, this newspaper was told by two departments with an oversight role in the project that none existed at that point in time. To put it mildly, this is a curious state of affairs with €30m taxpayers' money at stake.
Now that Department of Public Expenditure officials are doing due diligence on the proposals, it emerges they have concerns over "optimistic" projections about attendances and employment potential, among other issues.
These concerns will have to be addressed before the money is allocated.