Public Accounts Committee, Dáil clerk Peter Finnegan, committee member and Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy
Dáil clerk Peter Finnegan is answering questions at the Public Accounts Committee in light of his report on the purchase of the controversial Japanese Komori printing press which, the committee heard, will likely be in use for 12 to 15 years.
In response to a question from Social Democrats TD, about what things should be learned from the event, Mr Finnegan said:
“All of the project teams must include specialist architectural expertise where a project could involve structural modifications and where appropriate, legal, external subject matter and health and safely expertise.
“And I think in reality if this project would have run as you would have expected it to run, we would have had an architect on the team, there would have been discussions that would have taken place at a very early stage.
“Those discussions I suppose would have been reflected in the nature of the business case because the business case that was received basically referred to the purchase of an asset. But it didn’t make reference whatsoever to ancillary works.
“And this was kind of looked at by a range of people within the Oireachtas – not just the project team because at the time we had a system where we had a committee that looked at kind of business cases of this nature.”
Later after listing the members of the business and strategy sub-committee by their title but not by their name*, Mr Finnegan added:
“All of those people looked at it. In actual fact three or four of the members of that business and strategy sub-committee went over to the printing unit, went into the rooms where the printer was going to be installed and the issue of height never actually came up.”
“So I think the big thing was there was actually just no sense at all that height was an issue and I suppose the perspective I think, really, when you look back at the papers and the evidence was that the project involved the purchase of an asset.
“Like the complexities around the installation of that asset were not considered. At all.”
“It was just assumed that the asset that we were purchasing, the new printing press could replace the old Heidelberg printing presses. And that was how it was at the time.”
* Mr Finnegan said the committee was headed by the then Superintendent and included the Head of Communications at principle level, the Principal from Committees, the Principal from the Parliamentary Legal Advisers’ Office, the Principal from the Library and Research Service and the Principal who is Head of Finance and Commission of the Office of Secretary General. He said it also included the Chief Translator and Assistant Principle in the Office of the Commission, the Secretary General.
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The latest increase follows reports last night that the total cost of the printer had reached around €1.8million, €200,000 more than the €1.6million outlined by the Oireachtas just two weeks ago.