‘No conflict of interests’ over contract

The CEO of Cork City Council has insisted there is no conflict of interests after her husband’s building firm won a city council-funded revamp of a former cinema for an arts group.

Ann Doherty said she had no role in assessing the tenders, or in the decision to award the contract, estimated to be worth around €260,000, to Kumry Ltd, a construction firm run by her husband, Jim Vaughan.

Ms Doherty, who was a director of Kumry since 1998, said she resigned her position and divested her shareholding in the firm, on September 1, 2014 — a week before she was officially appointed CEO of the council and several weeks before the contract was awarded.

She said she has no role in the operation of the building firm today. “Kumry Construction has successfully tendered for both public and private contracts in the past, including through other areas of the public sector, as is their decision and entitlement in business,” she said.

“In all such processes, I have had no involvement whatsoever.”

Ms Doherty was responding to questions from this newspaper arising from the council’s acquisition of the former Lido cinema in Blackpool for refurbishment to house arts group, Cork Community Art Link (CCAL).

The council bought the derelict building last year for €57,000 specifically to house the arts group.

But the revamp contract was raised at last night’s council meeting by SF Cllr Kenneth Collins.

The Irish Examiner has established that City Hall has entered into a licence agreement with CCAL in relation to the building.

While the council owns the building, the appointment of the design team and subsequently the contractor for the refurbishment were matters for the CCAL board, a council spokesperson said.

She said the council was “facilitating” the license arrangement and providing funding up-front to deliver the project, and that CCAL would repay the funding to the council over the term of the lease arrangement.

While all appointment and contract documents are held by CCAL, City Hall is maintaining “oversight” of the entire project. to ensure it is delivered to the highest standards and that value for money is obtained.

The tender process was managed by CCAL’s independent design team and

Kumry was deemed to be the most “cost competitive”, the spokesperson said.

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