John Deasy has told the Dáil Public Accounts Committee that it was wrong to pin the blame for all the financial problems at Waterford Institute of Technology on former president Kieran Byrne.
He said: “On a personal level I think Mr Byrne was dealt with very badly. I think that ultimately all the issues which came about in WIT were lumped together and dumped on his doorstep, and it was unfair.”
“When you look at the documentation and the history of this, Kieran Byrne did a lot of good when it came to the institute and I think that’s been forgotten,” stated Mr Deasy, who is the PAC’s vice-chairman.
He said the entire responsibility had been laid in Mr Byrne’s direction. “He became the scapegoat frankly for a lot of things which went wrong in the institute and I think that was extremely unfair.”
In his opinion, “with regard to how he was dealt with personally by the Higher Education Authority, there are questions to be answered.”
With the non-renewal of Mr Byrne’s contract currently subject to legal proceedings, Mr Deasy said “it will probably be the court that determines that” — but “as the facts leak out” as to how he was dealt with, “it’s becoming more troubling frankly … and I’m not the only member of this committee who’s forming that opinion.”
Turning to the completion of the Carriganore sports complex — which, WIT President Willie Donnelly told the committee, will start next week and be completed by June — Deputy Deasy said this was very good news.
He said financial management at WIT has been regularised and since Mr Donnelly’s appointment in April he had “contributed an awful lot to that”. The institute was now at the point of being able to move on with the southeast university application process.
He said he and PAC chairman John McGuinness shared the view that it’s important “to draw a line under the issues that have dogged the institute” in the recent past, and I think that has been achieved … which is extremely positive.”
Mr Donnelly told Deputy Deasy he has “a very good relationship” with his IT Carlow counterpart. The previous merger discussions “fell apart before because the foundation wasn’t there” and “we want to get it right” this time round in order to develop “a university of real quality for the region.”
Deasy: Work to start within a couple of weeks
Waterford TD John Deasy says loan finance is to be made available by Government to finish phase 3 of the stalled Carriganore Sports Complex.
Work is to commence within the next fortnight and will be completed in June.
Deputy Deasy, who is vice-chairman of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, had called on the State to step in to facilitate the completion of the complex, work on which ground to a halt over three years ago.
The PAC recently received documents indicating that costs will be significantly more than anticipated. In a report, Eugene McKenna, former CEO of Diverse Campus Services — the company tasked with delivering the project — blamed leadership and governance issues for work stopping in 2012.
While he wouldn’t disagree with that analysis, John Deasy says it’s important to “move on and ensure that the uncertainty surrounding the project was ended.
“Myself and the chairman John McGuinness have made it clear at the committee that leaving the building like it is simply isn’t an option. When the Higher Education Authority appeared before us last January it estimated the shortfall at €5m. The Department of Education had already committed €2.9m to the project but a realistic means of financing the remainder needed to be found.”
The HEA has already said WIT “overstretched” in advancing its own independent building programme before running into funding problems. The Phase 3 ‘Carriganore Arena’ element was meant to cost €9.7m. But financing issues arose within the college after €6.5m was spent and the multi-purpose building is still largely idle and incomplete.
When the Department was at the committee in September it indicated that a loan was being looked at. This financing has now been agreed on terms that are manageable. Deputy Deasy says the priority is to finish what’s been started, regardless of the various legacy issues.
“The PAC has been dealing with the Department for the past year on this and the WIT debt situation. I think there was a realisation from officials that the State needed to step in and give the Institute a helping hand.”
The Fine Gael TD said new WIT president Willie Donnelly “has steadied the ship and we’re close to being on the right track, finally, to becoming a university, which is the most important thing.”
Following discussions with Waterford TD John Deasy, Enterprise Ireland has agreed to collaborate with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to determine what benefit the agency can bring to the State’s fishing ports, including Dunmore East.
“Enterprise Ireland is the agency responsible for marketing our export food sector. I felt they should be involved in our ports and seafood industry,” the Fine Gael deputy said.
The Dáil Public Accounts Committee recently published a report on the six fishery harbour centres which shows their economic potential is not being realised.
The problem of idle, under-utilised and badly run properties has plagued many ports for years — “despite the fact that demand exists for these facilities,” the PAC found. Protracted legal wrangles have ensued in some cases, with poor relations between the Department and harbour users in general.
Deasy, who is vice-chairman of the PAC, said: “While the situation is worse in other ports, there are still some difficulties locally in Dunmore East, including complex issues surrounding arrears.
“But we now have a very proactive harbourmaster and the Department is making progress in dealing with legacy issues it inherited on taking over the marine portfolio eight years ago.”
The Committee’s report identified “a history of inefficiency” across the six centres, from poor property management to “archaic” accounts and lax financial controls, with facilities left vacant and revenues due to the State left uncollected.
In formulating its recommendations, and recognising the need for a more strategic approach, Deasy met with Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon — whose background is in the food industry — with a view to utilising its expertise.
“I put it to her that her agency should have a role in the future of these buildings for seafood processing or related commercial activity and her reaction to the suggestion of collaborating with BIM and the Department was positive.”
Briefing the PAC about the progress made in implementing new administrative and oversight structures for the harbours, Department secretary general Aidan O’Driscoll told Deputy Deasy that the involvement of Enterprise Ireland is “an excellent idea… and I am delighted about the idea of involving it in this process.”
The Committee has recommended that the largely-shelved business blueprint drawn up for the six ports in 2009 be revisited by a newly Fishery Harbours Development Board. It also wants a new arbitration-based dispute resolution mechanism established, and a clear segregation between the Department’s control functions and responsibility for harbour development.
Deasy added: “Landings are up but this is about maximising the local economic benefit. A number of people have approached me about processing shellfish and getting involved in seafood for export in the past six months in particular.
“Enterprise Ireland is the obvious agency to look at the assets we have in each of these ports and use their expertise to help market the industry abroad.”
John Deasy: strong perception locally that he was poorly treated by Department
The Department of Agriculture has told Waterford TD John Deasy that it will direct a special steering committee to review the circumstances in which a Dungarvan farmer was compelled to slaughter 4,000 pigs at a loss of almost €750,000.
Speaking at last Thursday’s meeting of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, which discussed the Department’s handling of the 2002 mass destruction of pigs at the Ballinamuck farm of Tom Galvin, Secretary General Aidan O’Driscoll said they would not allow a similar situation to unfold again.
“There’s no doubt that that. There are many aspects of this that we wouldn’t handle the same way. If we did allow on-farm slaughter we would supervise the whole thing.”
Outlining the case history, he told how traces of Carbadox — banned in the EU in 1999 because of its carcinogenic properties but still legal in the United States — were found in a pig carcass traced to Mr Galvin’s farm, where officials later found several bags of the product.
Mr Galvin was convicted under animal remedy regulations but successfully appealed the verdict. The Department did not defend the appeal on the basis that the Supreme Court had decided that the Minister did not have the right to amend regulations.
Deputy Deasy, vice-chairman of the PAC, told the Secretary General: “When it comes to Tom Galvin, I have to say he’s someone who’s very well regarded and the feeling locally would be that the Department treated him poorly, and that’s my own subjective view having looked at the evidence.”
Deasy said he’d formed this opinion “regardless of the constraints Department officials might have been under when it comes to the rules and regulations in dealing with animals suspected of being diseased, or fed things allegedly that would affect the food chain adversely.”
Mr O’Driscoll, stressing “he’d no axe to grind” with Mr Galvin and “he could well be a fine person, as you’ve said”, explained why officials entered the farm and that the farmer admitted spreading the product on the floor of his pig pens.
“Once that admission was made, effectively the pigs had to be slaughtered,” he said. No further testing took place. Mr Deasy wondered why not, if only for clarity’s sake. Mr O’Driscoll acknowledged “there must have been a test we could have done, yes.”
The Fine Gael TD disagreed with his contention that “there would have been nothing served” by testing the pigs on the farm. If it had produced “incontrovertible evidence as to what might have gone into the food chain, I think it would have solved an awful lot of problems subsequently.”
Though accepting the Department has to act in cases involving threats to the food chain, “I think you made a mistake — and left a real grey area about the state of those pigs — by not going down that road [testing],” he said. Mr O’Driscoll agreed that this was a reasonable assessment.
The Department had told Mr Galvin to have the pigs destroyed in an approved plant as they must not enter the food chain. Instead, he asked to carrying out the slaughter on his property using a humane killer.
The Secretary General said the disposal of the carcasses was supervised by a Department official at all times. Around 25 percent of the slaughter was overseen by a veterinary official and it was done “meticulously”.
Mr O’Driscoll — who refuted an allegation that a Department official overseeing the slaughter had handed Mr Galvin a lump hammer and told him to finish the job — said he understood that about 10 animals were killed in this way before the vet intervened and took away the hammer.
Mr Deasy said that for the Department to admit it wouldn’t allow such a scenario to unfold again “is significant”. The fact that the Veterinary Council had exonerated the vets involved was “fair enough” but “that doesn’t mean that things that happened were done properly” or that this “should have occurred the way that it did.”
Mr O’Driscoll said: “You’re quite right — if we did this again I’m quite sure we wouldn’t do it in the same way and in the same circumstances. In particular, if we did allow on-farm slaughter by the farmer I think we would supervise the entire thing. Would we allow [it] at all? I don’t know, I’d be unwilling to say definitely not.”
Deputy Deasy said, “It amazes me that when it comes to the obvious, potentially devastating financial result that did occur that only 25% of the slaughter was actually supervised” — compounded by the fact that procedures didn’t change even after the alleged use of a lump hammer; which Mr O’Driscoll regarded as “a fair point”.
Having been “constructively made [to] slaughter those pigs himself,” he deemed it “understandable” why Mr Galvin asked permission to do so on his own farm, given that he’s gone to a couple of abattoirs who refused, presumably because they didn’t want any potentially contaminated pigs going into the foods chain. Plus, “it was probably the cheaper option at the time.”
Mr O’Driscoll had “no problem with that interpretation”. The only other option would have been to bring a professional slaughterman onto the farm, “and I think if we were doing it again that option would be quite a prominent one.”
In his opinion, “The key error we made was not having 100% supervision.” However, Mr Deasy maintained this was “not the only mistake really”. First off, when that singular pig was believed to have tested positive, the Department left Mr Galvin “remain in a state of limbo for three months.”
He couldn’t understand how, “if it was so crucial that those pigs were slaughtered, why did you wait three months? It seems to me it really was a haphazard approach by the Department.”
During that time, the pigs got sick, disease spread, medicines were taken away from the farmer, and he moved animals in that interim period; “probably because he needed cash to keep going.”
The Secretary General said because Mr Galvin contested the slaughter order in the High Court, which found against him, a lot of delay before the slaughter took place “related to those legal issues.”
Deputy Deasy also said Mr Galvin “would contend that the manner in which those pigs were slaughtered was not correct”. Mr O’Driscoll said the method the farmer had used was very widely applied in the UK during the swine fever outbreak two years previously.
Another option was the Department could have taken over the pigs and got them slaughtered — but the legal advice was that it would have ended up having to pay significant compensation. “Would that have been a better outcome?” the Secretary General asked. “Not for the taxpayer.”
But, Mr Deasy said, “You could certainly make the argument, for fairness sake, it might have been the best option.” He added that, notwithstanding the disease risks associated with the movement of animals and so on, “there’s also the question of treating somebody fairly, and when I look at this I think, actually, he was treated poorly”.
On account of a product that’s still not banned in the U.S. to this day, he’d been left out of pocket to the amount of €0.75m.
With a 2005 review of the case conducted without Mr Galvin’s input, and its findings still unpublished, Mr Deasy said: “I think your new steering group within the Department should take another look at this, for the sake of fairness to the individual in question who was put out of business... and at least offer him the opportunity, outside of an adversarial setting, to make his case.”
The Secretary General had “no difficulty with that” and said the best thing he could do was to refer the 2005 internal report to the steering group for its consideration, and also hand it over to the PAC. Mr Galvin could make a submission to the steering group, “if he wants to contest anything that’s in the report, or just present his own narrative.”
With a €6 million dredging operation getting underway, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed that it is exploring the possibility of constructing a breakwater at Dunmore East.
Waterford TD John Deasy asked what infrastructural funding might be made available for the next phase of development at the State fishery port when Department officials appeared before the Dáil Public Accounts Committee last Thursday.
He said “two critical issues” had been identified to him — the first being a stepping-off point and safe access for cruise ships which “are vital from an economic tourism standpoint”.
Pointing to the very real difficulties Dunmore, as a busy port, is experiencing in providing space for passengers and crew to disembark, Deasy said “it’s becoming a potential safety issue” and asked the Department to look into it.
He added: “The second piece of essential infrastructure missing from Dunmore East is a breakwater, to allow for the leisure and sailing end of things to be built on and promoted.”
Cecil Beamish from the Department’s marine division confirmed that the “the next significant capital project that is being looked for Dunmore East down the line is a breakwater.”
This, he said, “would provide benefit also to the marine-leisure side of the harbour — which has been growing very rapidly — in terms of improved shelter and overwintering, and possibly allow the development then of small craft berthing.”
He told Deputy Deasy that “the exploratory work on what type of breakwater, the positioning, the scale, the costing, all of that, that’s getting underway over the next period as we move through the dredging.”
He added that they would also be deepening the entrance channel as part of the dredging exercise, with the overall operation to remove mud and silt from the harbour basin “going deeper than had been envisaged last year.
“At the moment we’re exploring what is the engineering and design dimensions of what would be required for a breakwater because there are different versions of where and how you’d put it [in]; and then, in parallel, considering multi-annual capital requirements and how to programme that,” he said.
A senior counsel is to examine how allegations of prolonged and serious abuse at a foster home in the South East were investigated by the HSE.
Waterford TD and Dáil Public Accounts Committee vice-chairman, John Deasy said: “A number of people put their careers on the line to bring this out into the open and the very least they deserve is this independent review.
“It’s been difficult to get but at last some of the families who’ve been dealing with this since the early nineties will see someone independently look into how the HSE dealt with this affair.”
It’s alleged that up to 40 children and young adults with severe intellectual disabilities were physically and sexually abused while in a foster setting during the eighties, nineties, and 2000s — and that two separate HSE inquiries into claims made by social care workers as far back as 1992 were inadequate.
The PAC asked the Department of Health to investigate the HSE’s procurement practices in commissioning former staff to conduct independent investigations into the case, which Deputy Deasy described as the worst he’s come across in 16 years as a public representative.
He wants the authority to appoint investigators in future cases taken away from the HSE to guard against a potential conflict of interest.
PAC Meeting | June 11, 2015
Deputy John Deasy: I want to return to NAMA and an issue that was raised on the floor yesterday during the debate on IBRC. I have a question about the ongoing monitoring and oversight of NAMA by the Comptroller and Auditor General's staff. How many members of staff are embedded in dealing with NAMA on a permanent basis? What oversight, monitoring and reporting does this entail?
Mr. Seamus McCarthy [C&AG]: The team comprises seven whole-time equivalents over a year. We may have a dozen people at a particular time if we need more bodies, but it equates to having seven full-time people. There is a very high level of engagement in the course of planning and carrying out the audit and reporting back any issues which we discover. The director of audit attends at least part of almost all the audit committee meetings. It is a very rigorous engagement. I will come back to the Deputy with more detail on it.
Deputy John Deasy: Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy Has this been the case since day one-----
Seamus McCarthy: It has, yes.
Deputy John Deasy: Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy -----when the NAMA Act was passed and enacted?
Seamus McCarthy: Yes.
The Department of Social Protection is on track to recover almost €250 million in overpayments in the space of three years.
Answering questions from Waterford TD John Deasy at the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, the Department’s Secretary General outlined projected welfare clawback figures for 2013–15.
Having queried what percentage of overpayments due to fraud and either claimant or clerical error are being recovered, the Fine Gael deputy was told that €127.2m worth of overpayments were recorded in 2013, of which €70.7m was recovered — up from €53m in 2012.
The PAC heard that a new checking system is only “live” since the end of last year, so restitution levels will improve further. In 2014, welfare overpayments totalled €124.4m, with €83m recovered. “And our expectation in 2015 is that we’ll be recovering in or around €90m,” Niamh O’Donoghue said.
Describing the moneys involved as “very significant”, John Deasy commented: “People who pay taxes and work hard for a living expect efficiency when it comes to recovering social welfare payments resulting from fraud or those paid out in error.
“The recovery systems are improving and should remind people who claim fraudulently there’s a better chance now they will be forced to return the money.”
The Department’s most senior official told the PAC she “would absolutely disagree with any suggestion that there is rampant fraud in the social welfare system. In terms of international comparisons there is no evidence to suggest that fraud in Ireland is out of step or out of kilter with the level of fraud anywhere else.”
Acknowledging that “one man’s customer error” — which is attributed to 30-40% of overpayment cases — “is another man’s fraud”, Mr Deasy asked if the extent of such mistakes is getting better or worse.
Ms O’Donoghue replied that the ratio of “suspected fraud” versus customer/administrative error when it comes to overpayments “has been increasing... [so] it’s not something we can be complacent about.”
Public Services Card
Regarding the new Public Services Card, which the Government is planning to invest another €17-18m in rolling out, Deputy Deasy asked “has that made an appreciable difference with regard to fraud.”
The Secretary General confirmed that the €24m contract is based on a target of 3 million cards being issued by the end of 2016. Some 1.4m are currently in circulation.
She said 62 cases of fraud had been identified already through the card’s associated facial recognition software. The new technology “allows us to uncover it very quickly, and very serious cases arose out of that which have gone through the courts,” with custodial sentences ensuing.
“The evidence to date is significant. It’s certainly in the millions,” she told Mr Deasy. “It also has a huge preventative role” in that, because they have to go through a registration process, “people are less inclined to perpetuate identity fraud to try and make multiple claims when they know we have the infrastructure now to check who they are.
“So yes, we really feel it has contributed enormously on the fraud side, as well as the customer service side, as we also have close to 400,000 people now with a Public Service Card with the free travel badge on it which provides much greater security to transport providers in terms of who is entitled to it.”
A large backlog of mostly elderly patients awaiting cataract surgery at Waterford Regional Hospital has been significantly reduced by outsourcing operations to private healthcare providers.
Last year the Dáil Public Accounts Committee was asked to look at how certain public hospital waiting lists were being tackled and whether value for money was being achieved.
In response to a January 2014 parliamentary question submitted by Waterford TD John Deasy the HSE outlined the steps it was taking to reduce the cataract surgery list.
The HSE subsequently confirmed there had been 1,135 patients on the WRH Ophthalmology Scheduled Care register as of July 31, 2013. Of these, 382 had breached the Department of Health 12-month waiting list target.
PAC member Deputy Deasy says: “An analysis of the hospital’s capacity to manage the accumulation of cases identified that only 320 would be treated by the end of 2013.
“The inability to deal internally with the backlog was attributed to three vacant permanent posts at Ardkeen — the hospital having been down to one full-time ophthalmic surgeon and two part-time consultants.”
The Hospital’s general manager sought and received approval from the HSE to outsource procedures to five hospitals to complete the volume of surgeries by the end of 2013.
Of the 815 patients offered a service in private hospitals, 666 accepted. Some patients wished to remain on the WRH waiting list and others had already received treatment elsewhere.
A breakdown shows the operations were carried out in Whitfield Clinic, Waterford (171), Auteven Kilkenny (196), Eye and Ear Hospital Dublin (122), and two Cork hospitals, The Bon Secours (101) and Mater Private (76).
Initial discussions with the private providers indicated a cost of around €2,300 per cataract procedure. Agreement was reached on a price of €1,900, paid to the hospitals, which the HSE regarded as “reasonable”.
In a follow-up report to the PAC last week, the head of the HSE’s South/South West Hospital Group said that since December University Hospital Waterford has had a full complement of four consultant ophthalmologists. There's also a plan in place to cater for patients in-house, “ensuring reduced waiting times”.
John Deasy added: “While the numbers who have received procedures are significant, I’m aware of others who couldn’t wait and went abroad to get treatment.
“I also know there are people who don’t fall into these categories so I’ll be asking the HSE what the current waiting list is like and how quickly it will be dealt with.
“There has been progress but there are still people waiting too long. Elderly people shouldn't have to endure diminished sight and blindness considering how treatable the condition is in most circumstances,” Deasy said.
“Ideally all these operations should be taking place in University Hospital Waterford but the priority has to be to ensure people get the treatment they need. And if that means outsourcing procedures to private providers then that’s fine.”
Waterford Fine Gael TD John Deasy says the “resilient” fishing community of Dunmore East has endured “a legacy of bitter disappointment” due to Government “inaction”.
He made his criticisms after hearing confirmation at today's Public Accounts Committee meeting that a €4 million dredging contract for the inner harbour has been delayed until next year.
The Fine Gael deputy quoted “a litany” of consultants reports and studies into the proposed redevelopment of the State fishery port dating back almost a decade and a half — including a shelved €50-60m upgrade.
“There comes a point when you can’t answer reasonable questions from a fisherman or a business person in Dunmore any longer. I’ve become hesitant about giving affirmation to any Government announcement as it affects Dunmore East...”
Addressing officials from the Dept of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, he went back over the myriad findings, recommendations, “and frankly the lack of activity that has occurred” — starting with the 2000 KPMG technical and socio-economic review of infrastructural requirements in Dunmore East.
This, he said, was followed in 2003 by the Department-commissioned Kirk McClure and Morton Report. Involving preliminary designs and environmental impact assessment, it found the existing harbour was too small, and that the set-up didn’t permit proper development — “effectively a reiteration of the previous report.”
A public consultation process commenced in 2004, and planning permission for the development of the fishery harbour centre was granted the following year. In 2006 €300,000 was provided for design and a similar sum for site investigations.
Mr Deasy then referred to a 2007 cost-benefit analysis by Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd for the Dept of the Marine into a large-scale State investment highlighted the old age of the harbour, the lack of dredging since the early nineties, and the absence of safe access to the shore for yachts.
The first phase was scheduled to start in 2008 — “and then the economy collapsed.”
However, hopes were raised in March when funding of €4m was announced for the first dredging operation in Dunmore in 22 years. The build-up of sediment has seriously hampered the port’s activities, with larger fishing vessels unable to dock and having to steam to Cork or Howth instead.
The amount allocated under the capital programme is just to dredge the inner basin — “the idea of overall harbour redevelopment is not being spoken of,” Deputy Deasy said. The tender process was to be have been completed by July, but “now we learn that there’s a delay in that.”
Department General Secretary Tom Moran confirmed “we had intended to spend money this year ... [but] we ran into a difficulty with the tender”.
Cecil Beamish, Assistant General Secretary in the Marine Division, explained that the contract has to be re-tendered because the bids received “were deemed, after assessment, not to be value for money for the State and involve potential cost exposures for the State for claims.”
Before seeking new, “more precise” tenders “there is further sampling and analysis being done in greater detail on all the sediments because one of the issues is the level of contamination [by heavy metals] in some of the sediment areas,” he said. Alternative ways of dealing with the material are also being looked at.
Asking when this ongoing pre-tender analysis would be finished, Mr Deasy said: “I need to actually give some certainty to the people in Dunmore East now. I think that’s very important at this point”.
Mr Beamish said “there are a number of steps to go through” but the objective is to get a new specification ready “as early as possible... Clearly the earlier in the year that that can be done the easier it will be for a contractor to carry out the works in reasonable weather conditions, and also taking account of the other [harbour] users.”
Tom Moran added that “there’s an absolute intention to conclude, or begin that, as soon as possible in the new year under next year’s capital programme. So it’s a top priority.”
But Mr Deasy said “When it comes to Dunmore East there’s a legacy of bitter disappointment as to what Government has promised and what Government has actually delivered. Or not delivered.
“There comes a point,” he said, “when you can’t answer reasonable questions from a fisherman or a business person in Dunmore any longer. I’ve become hesitant about giving affirmation to any Government announcement as it affects Dunmore East... it’s got to that point.”
While acknowledging that capital funding had been granted in the past eight years — including €450,000 in 2013 for the widening and extension of the west wharf slipway (after a lot of lobbying) — he surmised that an equivalent amount had gone into the other State harbours over the same period.
Deputy Deasy said the local community, despite countless setbacks, had proved itself “very resilient”, noting that another meeting had been held the previous evening to examine ideas in conjunction with Waterford IT, who have received funding under the Fisheries Local Area Development Scheme for a local economic stimulus feasibility study.
“They’re trying very hard to keep this village vibrant: they had a meeting last night, again, about all of these issues. Some focus and concentration needs to be given by the Department when it comes to Dunmore East and the infrastructural issues that have been identified — ad nauseam — over the last 20 years but have not been acted upon.”
Ultimately, he said, “It’s a neglected port. It has been for a long time. I mean, the litany of reports and non-action as a result is incredible, I have to say. It’s absolutely incredible. I’m going to press you on this. I’m going to chase you with regard to this particular project, for as long as it takes to get the dredging done.
“We were talking, not so long ago, about investing €60m in the harbour there. And those studies were done... There is a case to be answered... The deficit has been on the Government side here,” he said.