Bridge work to continue with review meeting in September

26/07/2014: Former Irish rugby international star, Willie Duggan, who is also a successful businessman in the city was asking Cllr Pat Dunphy, with Councillors Mary Hilda Cavanagh and Fidelis Doherty how they had reached the decision at the meeting. Photo: Pat Moore.
Work will continue at the site of the controversial new bridge in Kilkenny and no review of the project can alter that fact, it was revealed on Saturday.

Work will continue at the site of the controversial new bridge in Kilkenny and no review of the project can alter that fact, it was revealed on Saturday.

Some form of review meeting is to be held in September, supervised by the council’s internal audit committee. However, it will have no legal standing or consequences, according to advice the council has received.

Last Saturday’s emergency council meeting had been called to hear a notice of motion calling for a meeting to review the Central Access Sheme, but before it was heard, a letter of advice from Harte Solicitors was read out to clarify the legal position of the members. Acting chief executive John Mulholland had received the letter on Friday, July 25.

A crowd of around 300 people gathered outside County Hall to await news of proceedings inside. They had been waiting for the vote on a notice of motion, tabled by Cllrs Malcolm Noonan and Kathleen Funchion, since June.

There was not time to hear it at that June meeting, nor at the July council meeting, and an emergency meeting held last Tuesday had heard the motion could not be taken then, as not enough notice had been given.

On Saturday, the council was told it had no specific power to review the scheme, that a review has no legal standing or legal consequence, and that the council had no statutory power to mandate the executive to halt works at that meeting.

Acting chief executive John Mulholland said he had listened intently to the concerns of the people of the city. He said that the proposed notice of motion called for a meeting to be held, and he did not see any issue with that.

Senior engineer Simon Walton also addressed the meeting, saying that delays to work to date had cost at least €150,000 to date. He clarified the recent timeline of events, from the receipt of tenders to the letter of acceptance forming the contract in early June.

Cllr Malcolm Noonan said he was disappointed with the implications of the legal advice, as well as its timing on the day of the meeting.

“This information was only provided to members this morning, and the item has been on the agenda since the June meeting,” he said.

He called on the members to support the spirit of the notice of motion, regardless of its limitations. The members agreed on a date of September 1 for the review meeting.

Mr Mulholland told the members he had made contact with the chairman of the council’s internal audit committee, who agreed in principal to take a role in supervising the review.

This is the second review which has not yielded a cessation of works on the bridge.

As recently as July 15, the Fianna Fail members said they had held ‘a comprehensive review of the entire project’, but were informed that it was not possible to suspend the scheme.