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Monday 19 November 2018

Stadium report to come in ahead of deadline

Senan Molony

THE independent review into the Stadium Ireland project is expected to be delivered to Government by the middle of next month, two weeks ahead of deadline.

An early report was forecast yesterday by Geoff Schmitt, executive director of High-Point Rendel, the international consultancy on major infrastructure, based in London.

His firm has been asked to adjudicate on competing claims that the Abbotstown project would cost between £500m and £1bn.

The company has made several visits to Ireland and has some concluding work to do here before it issues the report.

Concerned about leaks to the media, the Government has made the company sign strict confidentiality agreements. Any breaches will see the company's fee cut.

It is understood however that any final report to Government will include warnings about the cost-effectiveness of Stadium and Sports Campus Ireland in the face of more difficult economic times ahead, setting the scene for renewed political clashes.

The report of the consultants is likely to spark another political battle, particularly since it will arrive in the middle of the Government's planned unveiling of a new strategy for the health services. It will also follow an opinion poll last week which revealed that most Irish people are dissatisfied with State spending on hospitals.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has already said he would have no difficulty in looking again at aspects of "scale" in the overall project, although it is believed he is personally anxious to retain an 80,000-seater stadium as the centrepiece of the complex.

Major sports infrastructure internationally usually run over budget, and the Government has already warned about increased labour costs within the economy.

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