5 Jun 2008

A couple of weeks back, I wrote a piece for the Tribune about the Public Accounts Committee hearings into the Ballymun Regeneration Project and how (it seemed to me at least) Roisin Shortall gave the General Secretary at the Department of the Environment, Gillian Tallon, an easy ride in a situation where a project is running €500m over budget, is six years behind schedule and where there appears to be no real evidence that anyone was about to get a handle on things.

What I thought odd was that FF’s John Curran had gotten things off so well - setting an unmistakably serious tone. But when the time allotted to him for 'cross examination' came to an end, however, rather than picking up on the strands of Curran’s valid and probing line of enquiry (which would be the norm in these instances) Shortall took a different tack. Maybe I completely misunderstood, but it was as if she wasn’t aware of the fact that this was a hearing about a not-fully-accounted for half billion euros.

Sadly for us (but not for him), John Curran has received a promotion. He’s now a Minister of State, which means he is no longer a member of the Public Accounts Committee and, if I understand it correctly, is not permitted to contribute to the Committee’s final report on the matter. From what I’ve been told, John is concerned that the gravity with which he views the problems with the Regeneration Project will not now be reflected when the report is finally presented.

Our only hope is that other members of the Committee – Jim O’Keeffe and Ciaran Cuffe amongst them – will not let this one slip and bring focus to an issue which belongs on the front pages.  

On a more pleasant note...

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