By Joe Barrett
Councillor Aisling Moran was none too happy with the reply she received to her motion at the October meeting of Laois County Council when she sought a “detailed and itemised list of costs, valuations, expenses and monies in, to date,” for the J17 National Enterprise Park, The Cube and the new Library in Portlaoise.
Her motion was seconded by cllr Noel Tuohy.
In reply, the council’s Chief Executive John Mulholland replied: “The information will be provided.”
“I’ve been asking for this information for over a year, and I am still waiting for a reply,” said cllr Moran.
She said: “Each time I ask for the information, I’m given a little snippet of information that doesn’t have it all in it. I’m sure there’s a lot of people pissed off with this as well. I’m fed up with it.
“All of these are excellent projects. It’s like playing with monopoly money. But it’s not monopoly money. This is people’s hard-earned cash. All projects that are funded with the public’s money need more transparency. The money in and money out should be available to the public to scrutinise. When a public representative asked for information, it should be readily available to them.
“Even though I have put this request in as a notice of motion, again no figures come forward. This cannot be right that a public representative asked for this information four or five times and still is not allowed to have it. Why?”
Cllr Tuohy said: “There should be some form of answer because people will put two and two together and get five. It would have been the right thing to hear the response.”
Mr Mulholland said: “I should have the information out in two or three weeks and will send it to each councillor. The information has been provided before.
“The Cube will be finished in the next 10 days with no over expenditure. But I’m not going to go into detail in relation to it at this stage, but a good account will be given to each of the three projects.”
Cllr Moran interjected and asked: “The Library is, at how much now?”
Mr Mulholland said: “I’m not answering that now until I give the full account and that’s not the purpose of the notice of motion.”
“This information was supposed to be given to councillors today. This information should be here, and you should be able to give it to us,” said cllr Moran.
Mr Mulholland reiterated: “The information will be provided in two- or three-weeks’ time.”
“This is not acceptable. I have asked for this information so many times. Everybody is sick and tired of me asking for it,” said cllr Moran.
“You’ve had it so many times,” said Mr Mulholland.
“I haven’t,” retorted cllr Moran, “I’ve had pieces of paper with miscellaneous to €150,000. I want to know how much money came in and went out on these three projects.
“Another thing I want to know? The Cube started off as a Centre of Innovation. It’s not that anymore, it’s now completely different. I know of a couple of people the council had approached about renting spaces in it and the council hadn’t the building ready for them.
“I’m asking you to provide me with the information on these three projects by the end of the week, please. I think that’s ample time to provide me with what I ask for.”