Cork Airport overrun to be investigated by Dáil committee

THE chairman of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee will today call on the Department of Transport to investigate the multi-million euro cost overrun associated with the new terminal at Cork Airport.

The secretary general of the department, Julie O’Neill, appears before the committee this morning to discuss various transport issues.

Fine Gael TD Bernard Allen, who chairs the committee that scrutinises State spending, says he will call on Ms O’Neill to investigate the overruns of the terminal project in Cork.

The original estimated cost of the terminal project was €140 million. But sources familiar with the project have indicated in recent months that the final costs ranged between €200m and €220m.

However, at a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport earlier this month, the chief executive of the Dublin Airport Authority, Declan Collier, disputed those figures.

The DAA was responsible for the terminal project as it oversees the three State airports — Dublin, Cork and Shannon.

The increased cost of the terminal project is likely to increase the debt which Cork will incur after it and Shannon are separated from the DAA.

“The cost of the new terminal at Cork Airport was nowhere near €200m,” Mr Collier said.

“The Dublin Airport Authority has invested approximately €180m in building what is practically a new airport at Cork.

“Approximately 50% of that money was used to construct the terminal. The rest of the money was spent on improving other amenities, such as the hard-standing area, the internal road network, the car parking facilities, the new energy centre and the fire station.”

But Mr Allen accused Mr Collier of “splitting hairs” in trying to distinguish the cost of the terminal from the cost of additional associated infrastructure.

“Further infrastructure was needed as a consequence of the construction of the terminal. One cannot put a new building in place without providing for access roads and other complementary facilities... What was the initial projected cost of the overall project? What was the final cost? I would like to get those two figures,” Mr Allen told Mr Collier at the time.

Last night, Mr Allen said he would be urging the department to investigate the issue: “The Department of Transport has to carry out an investigation into the cost overruns as a matter of urgency.”

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