Eyre Square renovation could now cost city €20m


THE CONTROVERSIAL Eyre Square project in Galway could cost up to €20 million as a result of a High Court ruling, the city's mayor has predicted.

Mayor of Galway Cllr Pádraig Conneely says that it is time to "seriously question" Galway City Council's professional management abilities" following the High Court judgment.

The judgment, issued on Friday, rejected the city council's legal efforts to overturn an arbitrator's finding that it had behaved unreasonably towards a construction company hired to renovate Eyre Square.

Mr Justice Bryan McMahon upheld all the arbitrator's findings.

The contractor, Samuel Kingston Construction (SKC), ceased work on the site on June 27th, 2005, some 17 months after it had started the refurbishment project at Eyre Square.

Three weeks before, on June 4th, 2005, the city council had withdrawn all sums paid to the company under an acceleration agreement.

Mr Conneely said that the project, quoted at costing €9.6 million by Galway City Council, could now cost an extra €10 million.

"We have never got the accounts for this project, which had to be completed by another contractor.

"But once compensation is paid to SKC and legal costs are met, we could well be talking about a total of €20 million," Mr Conneely said.

"My stance in relation to the management of this has been totally vindicated," he said.

"If this was the private sector, heads would roll," said the mayor.

Galway City Council is understood to be studying the judgment before commenting further.

In a related development, NUI Galway writer-in-residence Mary O'Malley has warned that she believes the city to be at a "tipping point" due to the dramatic "consumption" of its own civic space by development.

"The issue of civic space, from public allotments and parks, to hospitals and railway stations, has become increasingly urgent as such space is privatised," said Ms O'Malley, who has initiated a series of public discussions on the issue at the university.

Film-maker and mountaineer Dermot Somers will address the theme of Wilderness in the City at NUI Galway's Arts Millennium building tomorrow.

Other participants in the series include human geographer, Valerie Ledwith, playwright Marina Carr; poets Sinéad Morrissey and Maurice Riordan, and writer Peter Sirr.

The sessions will be chaired by Ms O'Malley and NUI Galway's Dean of the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies Prof Kevin Barry.

The discussions are open to the public.

Further information is available by calling 091-495610.