Councillor demands State covers cost of €50m drainage scheme

A LIMERICK city councillor has tabled a motion calling on the Minister for Finance and Minister for Environment to fully reimburse the City Council the estimated €50 million bill for the controversial main drainage scheme.

Despite assurances from city manager Tom Mackey earlier this week that the council will not be liable to foot the bill, Cllr Patrick Kennedy (non-party) yesterday said he wanted a assurances from Dick Roche and Brian Cowen that they will cover the cost.

His motion calls for both ministers to underwrite the full financial costs of the main drainage contracts and, in particular the monies paid in damages to Uniform Construction, the company which said the Council wrongly rescinded its €9.5m contract on the drainage scheme.

Cllr Kennedy said: “It is most unfair and unjust to the ratepayer that they should be made pay for a project about which the decisions were made by the Department of Environment and the executive of the Council.

“Elected councillors had no role in the awarding of this contract, or anything that happened afterwards. The elected members of the city council never made any decision in this matter. Some councillor may have been present when the tenders were open but that is as far as their role went.

“Thereafter, it was the executive, who were being advised by the Department of the Environment.”

Earlier this week, Mr Mackey told councillors in a closed meeting that the council would not be liable for the costs associated with the contract, or with the damages paid to Uniform.

Uniform’s contract was terminated in 2001 when it fell behind schedule.

The company argued it had encountered rock structure under the River Shannon of which it had not been advised by council reports. The council later contracted another firm to complete the work, but at a cost of some €20m.

Earlier this year, an arbitrator awarded Uniform an estimated €25m in damages arising from the termination of its contract.

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