Revealed: €5m overspend fiasco on greyhound HQ

Over €5m was overspent building the headquarters of the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) after a series of casual business deals backfired.

The taxpayer-funded IGB has struggled to pay a development debt to Limerick City Council, and its accumulated loans worry the Department of Agriculture, which has responsibility for greyhounds.

Difficulties arose after the IGB ignored early warnings from its advisers that it stood to break public procurement rules and was failing to secure legal protection in a critical property deal connected to the development of Limerick Greyhound Stadium at Greenpark.

In the process, it built up €13m in additional debt. This was to develop a Limerick track that had an annual turnover of just €261,357. Six other tracks across the country are now mortgaged.

These difficulties crystalised because of surprise costs associated with building the €23m stadium in 2010 and an inability to offload properties to fund it.

The complex should have cost €18m, had it not been for these missteps and an ill-fated attempt to build the facility in Clare.

The IGB suffered again when unwritten deals, underpinning the purchase of the Greenpark stadium site, collapsed. These had been part of a verbal pact with the company selling it the land, Limerick Racecourse Company (LRC).

The additional costs included:

* €2.5m to raise the land and compact the soil after it believed LRC would carry out this work as a “neighbourly” gesture;

* €1.2m for a car park it originally thought it could use for nominal rent and had considered a saving on other locations;

* Tens of thousands of euro in planning fees and unvouched contributions for professional services, which the seller of the site was contracted to meet.

When construction work began, the IGB had budgeted to spend €12.8m on the construction element of the stadium and site. By the end of last year, the bills had hit €18.2m.

This was in addition to €3.6m to purchase the site and other unspecified payments for professional fees, planning costs, and legal bills.

It also spent €1.3m on the alternative plot in Meelick, Co Clare.

This was bought without a cost-benefit analysis and before the IGB learned it could not get access to the roads or sewers.

The IGB has said the additional costs arose because of upheaval in the building industry.

It said it adhered to all public procurement rules and, under the guidelines, it is entitled to flexibility for commercial reasons.

It said that every payment made in connection with the project was tax compliant. It said it has cut costs to ensure it made a profit nationally.

LRC and its chairman, Mark McMahon, declined to comment.


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