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Mistakes made over €108m Poolbeg fiasco – city manager

DUBLIN City Manager Owen Keegan said he "puts his hands up" that mistakes were made with the Poolbeg Incinerator project, which could cost the taxpayer €108m.

Mr Keegan admitted that the incinerator may be scrapped entirely and has backed calls for an investigation.

A litany of poor decisions were revealed to the Oireachtas Environment Committee.

Mr Keegan put in an impressive performance at the committee hearing as he admitted that "serious weaknesses" have been uncovered.

An incinerator to deal with waste in the greater Dublin area was given the go-ahead in 1997.

But a series of objections and an EU-led investigation into the awarding of contracts means that no physical work has yet been done on the site.

Mr Keegan described as "entirely appropriate" the prospect of an independent investigation.

Committee chairman Michael McCarthy agreed to a request for Mr Keegan's predecessor, John Tierney, to appear in front of the committee in relation to his role. Mr Keegan admitted that the overall bill may be as large as €108m but that this could be recouped if the project gets the green light.

However, there is no record of minutes from crucial project meetings involving senior City Council officials.

TENDERING

The committee was told that US company Covanta, the firm behind the project, did not pass the original tendering process, but instead acquired the contract from a different company.

In response to a series of questions from Labour TD Kevin Humphreys, Mr Keegan admitted that the overall bill could reach €108m because of a €12m spend on a related project.

Mr Keegan said that some €12m has been spent on the project. A further €96.3m has been spent on the incinerator by the four local authorities.

Separately, Mr Keegan was quizzed over the decision to spend €29.77m on consultancy, despite only budgeting €8.3m.

He admitted that the contract – awarded to RPG – should have gone out for tender again on two occasions.

noconnor@herald.ie


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