PAC critical of decision to reopen garda station

The pending reopening of Stepaside Garda station will be strongly criticised by the Dáil’s spending watchdog, despite two Cabinet ministers demanding its return.

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan and Transport Minister Shane Ross have strongly backed the reopening of Stepaside Garda station, but the Public Accounts Committee is today set to criticise the decision on a “value for money basis”.

Last month, the Government revealed that Stepaside would be one of six stations reopened.

This announcement followed extensive demands by Mr Ross and Ms Madigan, who both represent the Dublin Rathdown constituency in which Stepaside lies.

Before Christmas, senior Garda management said that if they had to decide on where resources would be spent, they told the committee reopening Stepaside “would not be a priority”.

The PAC report, due for publication today, is set to strongly endorse the views of Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy who said he would prefer to send extra gardaí to Ballyfermot, Ronanstown, and the north and south inner city before Stepaside.

“We will be asking the question is it a good financial venture or whether taxpayers’ money is likely to be wasted in the 2018 estimates process,” said one PAC member. “We are warning there is a risk of a waste of money here.”

Given the strong objections, doubts have arisen as to whether the station will ever reopen given the costs involved.

Requests for a response from Mr Ross were not forthcoming last night.

It is understood that the PAC will also recommend that staff left without monies following the scandal at the Console charity should be paid a once-off ex-gratia payment, in lieu of monies lost.

The PAC will also for the first time refuse to sign off on the accounts of one of the bodies it examines.

The committee is less than happy with the co-operation it received from Transport Infrastructure Ireland during it examinations of Public-Private Partnerships.

According to committee sources, the report will reflect that unhappiness as well as the PAC’s refusal to endorse the accounts.

“This was on the basis that they did not make available information relating to the PPPs which would show us whether value for money was achieved or not,” the source said.

Meanwhile, the Government is set to approve measures today which will see 42,000 people hit by “bonkers” pension reductions addressed, the Irish Examiner can reveal.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty had “guaranteed to fix” the pension anomaly, which has seen women and men who took time out of their careers hit with reduced pensions of up to €1,500 a year, because of a 2012 rule change.


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