Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 11 October 2018
Public Accounts Committee
2017 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 13 - Office of Public Works
Chapter 6: Lease of Offices at Miesian Plaza
That is Mr. Buckley's claim. The constitutional officer of the State has said €11 million. The answer is "No". The two words Mr. Buckley has used are "not compatible". He also used the term, "quickly and efficiently". Then in the following breath, he said there was a delay. They are not compatible. The answer to what Mr. Buckley has said is "No".
That is my frustration with this situation and with so many other public bodies that come before the committee having squandered public money. The attitude is that they will hunker down, maybe say "Sorry" and get a rap on the knuckles . Then they are out the door until next year and life goes on. It goes on for the OPW but it does not go on as normal for thousands of our citizens because of OPW's actions. We do not talk about this enough. More specifically, as the Comptroller and Auditor General pointed out, there was a lack of action and failure to act. I have a hostel in my home town of Navan, close to the OPW headquarters in Trim, that has vacant sites. I am repeatedly told there is no money to provide that. I can tell Mr. Buckley that €11 million would do a good deal for that. I have a Garda chief superintendent who is looking for a divisional headquarters in Meath but there is no progress on that or even a straight answer from the OPW in respect of the site acquisition for that. The impact of the people in the OPW flittering away €11 million has consequences for whether money being available for services that the public desperately need.
Mr. Buckley has come before the committee and his statement referred to how there was a difficult journey to bring everyone along and how it undoubtedly caused delays. It was a difficult journey. Mr. Buckley should note they were not carrying their crosses to Golgotha; they were going from Hawkins House to Baggot Street. The fact is that rows were documented in the report about open-plan space, who would have an office or whether the water cooler would go in a given corner. That resulted in €11 million of ineffective expenditure. It is a complete and utter scandal. The attempt to say before the committee that it was a good deal is inexcusable.
Since there is ineffective expenditure on a grand scale at this level, the culture seeps down throughout the organisation. We have seen it with other bodies here and it has happened here as well. I will ask Mr. Buckley one more time about this deal. Is he seriously saying that this is a good deal that he is prepared to stand over?