Finance Minister says more answers are needed on €1.6m printer

Finance Minister says more answers are needed on €1.6m printer

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said that answers are needed about the cost of the Oireachtas printer and that the “magnitude of the challenge” in relation to the installation of the machine “verges on the inexplicable.”

He told Newstalk Breakfast that the Houses of the Oireachtas are “completely independent” of Government and are therefore responsible for their own affairs.

“Within that context there are two things. The first thing is that the way these costs have developed and the inability of the machine to work clearly requires scrutiny from the Public Accounts Committee - which is going to happen.

“The second thing is, amidst the huge annoyance about the cost, what I think equally needs explanation is why there was not agreement then to make it work.

“What are the work practices that meant that after a significant capital investment like this, it then couldn't be used?

"That is a separate point which needs to be teased out.”

Mr Donohoe acknowledged that challenges do happen during large equipment purchases or other major projects.

The magnitude of the challenge in relation to this verges on the inexplicable in relation to the machine and the space it had to go into.

“What should be equally of concern is what is the particular work practice and issue that meant it couldn't be used?

“We have made great progress in dealing with these issues in recent years across many parts of our public service, with cooperation and engagement through unions and so on.

"That is why this is of particular concern.”

Members of the Committee of Public Accounts (PAC) called for further accountability over the fiasco during a meeting yesterday.

A report, which was compiled by the clerk of the Dáil Peter Finnegan, detailed the costs, which showed that that the cost of the printer, including VAT, was €1.369m.

It emerged at the weekend that Oireachtas staff spent €808,000 on the printer, which includeed structural costs.

It was put into storage until September this year.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that it is a matter for the Ceann Comhairle and the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission to resolve, not the government.

“This is not a government department,” he added. “This is not a State agency. These are Houses of the Oireachtas, they're controlled separately from government.

“It is up to the Ceann Comhairle and the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission to account for that, and the opposition parties make up a majority of that commission.”

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