Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 11 October 2018
Public Accounts Committee
Business of Committee
There is a report today in The Times, Ireland edition, by Sean McCarthy who has done some good work on this through freedom of information. Under circular 11/15 Bord na gCon as the seller, being a State body, was obliged to go to the Valuation Office. It went to Savills, a private valuation company instead. It never went to the Valuation Office. My first question is why did it breach that circular. The purchaser, the Department of Education and Skills, then had the valuation done on a property which it did not own and is counter to the circular because it is the State body selling that goes to the Valuation Office. We now know the difference between the two prices which amounts to €11 million. We need to find out why the IGB did not go to the Valuation Office as it should have done and what prompted the Department of Education and Skills to go to the Valuation Office. Surely it is aware of this circular too. Would it not have found out that the IGB should have gone to it and if the IGB did not go to it and was aware of it did it not ask why?
Did the Department of Education and Skills not ask why it rather than the IGB was going to the Valuation Office, as per the protocol and the circular? A reason would have been needed for the Department to be informed that it had to take an action, that being, to get the valuations done. This brings me to the need to determine who knew what in the Departments of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Education and Skills. There is no way that the latter could have gone to the Valuation Office, given that it would have been aware of the circular stating that the IGB should go to the Valuation Office. Who told it? How was the Department aware that it should go in breach of the circular? Were there discussions between the two Departments and between Bord na gCon, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Education and Skills? We need to find out all of that. Ultimately, we need to find out why the Department of Education and Skills accepted the requirement to pay this amount of money, which I understand was €23 million of a total budget for land purchases of €28 million, or more than three quarters of its money for the year.