Tom Parlon is the minister for the Office of Public Works. The Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee is an unusual body. This Tribunal type committee was reluctantly instituted , to investigate Fianna Fail,s incredible incompetence in managing this nations affairs- wealth. In June 2005 it issued another of its many reports/findings,this time on the O.P.W. It has already revealed the usual incompetence found in almost every department of state(Health etc) managed by the political buffoons elected to govern the country. The Soldiers of Destiny,s investigators focused on three areas where purchase and rental agreements entered into by the OPW saw millions of taxpayers funds go down the drain. Specifically, the report targeted expensive cost overruns incurred by the OPW in property deals related to asylum seeker accommodation, office space for the Probation and Welfare Service in Dublin and the refurbishment of Cork’s Courthouse.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, PAC chairman Michael Noonan said the OPW had paid too much for five substantial properties purchased to house asylum seekers which had never been used.
One such property, the Devereux Hotel in Rosslare, was sold by the OPW for €1.86m - almost €1m less than it had cost.
Another 33-bed hotel in Macroom was purchased for €3.5m in 2000, and despite remaining empty, has so far cost the tax payer €500,000 in security costs.
Deputy Noonan said the PAC report would also be critical of a rental agreement whereby the OPW paid retail rates for office space for the Probation and Welfare Service in Dublin’s Donameade shopping centre. "They were paying retail rates in the shopping centre when they could have gone down the road for far less," he said.
Instead of paying the normal rental fee of €11.50 per square foot the OPW agreed to pay €20.31 bringing the annual rental bill to a massive €150,000. To make matters worse, fitting out the offices cost €1.5m - 10 times the original OPW estimate - while legal complications meant they remained empty for the first three years.
Deputy Noonan also said the €26.5m Cork Courthouse refurbishment "was a bit of a fiasco and ended up costing far more than it should have." The scale and projected cost of the courthouse, which opened in February, escalated from an estimated €6.35m while rental costs for alternative accommodation in Camden Quay came to a massive €750,000 a year. Since 1999 fit-out and rent of the much-maligned Camden Quay facility cost more than €6m.
The Office of Public Works is scheduled to decentralise to three locations around the country, on the following basis ;
Trim, Co Meath – 275 staff
Kanturk, Co Cork – 100 staff
Claremorris, Co Mayo – 150 staff .
What wonderful tax free travel/mileage expenses all those lucky deportees will clock up,wandering up and down the country throwing fistfuls of taxpayers money at builders,Landlords,and speculators of all sorts.