€183,000 to store e-voting machines

 

ALMOST €183,000 is expected to be spent this year on storage for electronic voting machines which Minister for the Environment John Gormley decided to scrap in April of last year.

The Department of the Environment spent €182,523 to store the defunct machines at 12 locations around the State in 2009 and said it expected to spend a similar sum on storage this year. A lease on one premises is not due to expire until February 2029. It cost the State €21,754 last year.

An interdepartmental taskforce charged with overseeing the disposal of the machines, which were bought for more than €51 million for use in the 2004 European and local elections, began meeting in July 2009. However, it has yet to submit its recommendations.

Of the 7,504 machines, 4,762 were moved from 12 local storage locations to a central facility at Gormanston Army Camp, Co Meath, in 2007. As this was a State-owned facility, no further storage costs were associated with these machines.

A further 2,728 are held at 13 locations around the State. The Government is not paying rent on one premises in Sligo, but the remaining 12 locations have ongoing costs on leases which the Government has yet to determine how to end.

The most expensive lease, for a premises in Co Kerry, cost the State €30,387 last year and is not due to expire for another three years. Rent on a premises in the Cavan-Monaghan area cost €21,754 and is due to expire in 2029.

Other high-cost leases of up to almost €28,000 have renewal periods of just six months, and one lease, which cost €25,277 in 2009, is renewable on a monthly basis. These are expected to be still in place by the end of this year.

Fine Gael deputy environment spokesman Terence Flanagan said the ongoing waste of money on e-voting was “shameful” and Mr Gormley must now state when the costs of the project would end.

“The Minister has said the task force ‘aims to complete its work as soon as possible’ but has failed to say when exactly that will be. It is high time this sorry saga, which has cost the taxpayer dearly, was drawn to a close.”

A spokesman for the Department of the Environment yesterday said the group most recently met last June and was expected to deliver its report soon.