By Dan Walsh
The Enniscorthy Flood Relief Scheme documents are with the OPW and Wexford County Council, but they are certainly not on the Minister’s desk in Dublin, so there is no point in local delegations to the Minister’s office demanding a signature anytime soon.
The matter rose in a tide of frustration and persistent questions from concerned members at last Monday’s March meeting held with Microsoft Teams in compliance with Covid-19 restrictions. The debate was triggered during the monthly report on the Flood Relief Scheme.
Cllr Jackser Owens told the meeting how he discovered the minutes of the meeting of June 19th 2012 by the OPW when the €45 million contract was signed with Eddie Breen, the then County Manager, John Murphy, the regional manager OPW and Tim Joyce and he felt it was time “for we, as a Council, meet the two ministers Pascal Donohue and Michael McGrath, with a view to getting the project signed off.
“The talking has to stop! I proposed last year to meet this Minister – it was turned down by the Council – it was turned down – and we said we would write to the Minister – but I think it is time to speak to this Minister now and ask him face-to-face when is he signing off on the Enniscorthy Flood Relief Scheme? thundered Cllr Owens.
“We need the District Manager to ring him up and look for an emergency meeting because we have been flooded almost twice in the last couple of weeks,” said Cllr Owens who added; “I am asking the Council to meet these people – not to write to them – but to meet them and talk to the Minister and ask him will he sign it and when is he going to sign it because we have nobody to go in and ‘bang that door’ to get it signed.”
Cllr Cathal Byrne was “very disappointed” to learn that the tender process was collapsed by Wexford County Council and re-tendering will happen and contractors will be asked to re-submit their submission of interest.
Larry McHale, Executive Engineer, said the matter raised by Cllr Owens will be a matter for the manager and the Council. In relation to Cllr Byrne’s question relating to the shortlisting of the pre-qualification procurement process for the bridge is split into two parts. This is not expected to delay the project.
Director of Services Carolyne Godkin acknowledged Cllr Owens frustrations. “At the moment I believe we don’t have a timeframe for the scheme confirmation,” Ms Godkin asked, and this confirmed by Mr McHale, who claimed that once the information is received from the OPW – “we expect that to be done by June” – and Ms Godkin suggested that until that happens a meeting with the Minister would not bring a result because he won’t be able to sign in lieu of the information being submitted.
Cllr Aidan Browne said that the impression was given that the project was on the Minister’s desk and was just not signed. “A simple question; Is it on the Minister’s Desk or is it still in County Hall. He cannot sign it if it is not up there! The impression is given that he is not signing it,” asked Cllr Browne.
Mr McHale said confirmation documents were sent to the Minister. He carried out his review as required under the recent legislation and he has requested supplementary information to support approval of the process. “He cannot sign off until he receives our information and reviews it.”
Cathaoirleach Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy said there is very little point in looking to meet the Minister when it is not on his desk for signing and he is waiting for information from us.
Cllr Owens disagreed and spoke about the information going up to the Minister in 2019, however Cllr Murphy told him it had been sent back for further information. “It is not with the Minister now; the ball is in the court of the OPW and Wexford County Council.”
Ms Godkin clarified that the detail would have to be re-submitted to the Minister.