Written answers

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism

National Aquatic Centre

8:00 pm

Photo of Jimmy DeenihanJimmy Deenihan (Kerry North, Fine Gael)
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Question 122: To ask the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if a subsidy has been paid to date in 2008 to the National Aquatic Centre for running costs and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16794/08]

Photo of Séamus BrennanSéamus Brennan (Minister, Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism; Dublin South, Fianna Fail)
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As the Deputy will be aware, the National Aquatic Centre reverted to the control of CSID (now the National Sports Campus Development Authority) on 1 December 2006 following High Court proceedings against the previous operators for failure to comply with the terms of their lease. As part of the contingency planning for the repossession of the Centre, the Authority established a subsidiary company, NSCDA (Operations) Ltd. to operate the Centre.

Notwithstanding the need to provide initial subsidies to the Centre to meet the costs of a comprehensive "health check" on the Centre and maintenance required to bring the facility back to standard, I have previously stated my view that the Centre should in time be able to operate on a self-financing basis. Following the first full year of operation under the new arrangements, a clearer picture of the operational needs of the Centre is emerging. However, I am encouraged by the significant increase in both visitor numbers and income which have already been achieved.

The National Sports Campus Development Authority have arranged for a financial assessment study which will benchmark the National Aquatic Centre against other equivalent facilities to be carried out. Work commenced in February and at present the contracted consultants are reviewing documentation on the operation of comparable facilities elsewhere. This exercise, together with the Centre's performance since it reverted to the direct control of the Authority, will inform the need for an operating subsidy for 2008 as well as any longer-term funding structure which may be required. I look forward to receiving a report from the Authority on completion of the benchmarking review.

Photo of Jimmy DeenihanJimmy Deenihan (Kerry North, Fine Gael)
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Question 123: To ask the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if the final certificate in respect of the construction work at the National Aquatic Centre has been issued; if so, when; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16795/08]

Photo of Jimmy DeenihanJimmy Deenihan (Kerry North, Fine Gael)
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Question 124: To ask the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if the final retention has been released to a company (details supplied) under the design and build project agreement of 7 February 2002; if so, when and the amount in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16796/08]

Photo of Séamus BrennanSéamus Brennan (Minister, Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism; Dublin South, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 123 and 124 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Aquatic Centre reverted to the control of CSID (now the National Sports Campus Development Authority) on 1 December 2006 following High Court proceedings against the previous operators for failure to comply with the terms of their lease. As part of the contingency planning for the repossession of the Centre, the Authority established a subsidiary company, NSCDA (Operations) Ltd. to operate the Centre.

Immediately on repossession of the Centre a full 'health check' was instituted covering all aspects of the facility — including maintenance, mechanical and electrical, and water quality issues. It also dealt with financial systems, human resources, marketing and sales. In parallel with these elements a comprehensive maintenance programme was undertaken throughout 2007 to bring the facility back to an acceptable standard.

As a consequence of the remedial works required at the facility after it reverted to the possession of the Authority, completion of the snagging process was delayed. However, I am advised that a contract administrator is at present working through all remaining items on the snagging list and hopes to have the process completed shortly. After the process is complete the final certificate will be issued and final retention will be paid over.

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