Coughlan vows to spend €102m by end of year
EDUCATION Minister Mary Coughlan last night pledged to spend her budget for school building before the end of the year -- amid fears unused funds may be handed back to the Exchequer.
Ms Coughlan insisted "timing" issues and project delays had led to her department's failure to spend €102m of its €465m capital expenditure budget.
But speaking in the Dail, she insisted the outstanding funds would be spent before the end of 2010.
The controversy over the unused allocation comes as students endure crumbling school buildings with poor facilities around the country.
Speaking in the Dail, Fine Gael's John O'Mahony insisted it was unacceptable the money had not been spent, especially when the Dail routinely heard cutbacks were on the way.
He said the minister had the money but would not spend it -- saying this was the second year in a row the department had underspent its allocation.
Ms Coughlan insisted the matter had been outside her control.
"There were timing issues and all TDs are acutely aware of this because they speak to me about these issues and the frustrations in the delays in a number of projects either through planning or other issues which frustrate the process by which the delivery programme takes place," she said.
"I can state that this year there is a larger programme on site than last year and I will continue to ensure that expenditure takes place."
And she added that it was her intention to have expenditure in her capital programme completed this year.
However, Ms Coughlan revealed that she may have to set aside money from the department's capital budget for pension payments.