Garda stations in €6m cost overrun

Row has broken out between OPW and developer JJ Rhatigan over cost overruns

Construction of the new Kevin Street Garda station in Dublin went over budget by about €3 million. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Construction of the new Kevin Street Garda station in Dublin went over budget by about €3 million. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The construction of two state of the art Garda stations has run over budget by up to €6 million, it has emerged.

A row has broken out over the cost overruns between the Office of Public Works, which runs the State’s property portfolio, and developer JJ Rhatigan, which built the two stations.

It was revealed in October that the new Kevin Street Garda station had gone over budget by about €3 million.

The OPW has now confirmed that it is in conciliation talks with the company over a second multimillion-euro project, the Galway regional and divisional headquarters, which was opened in July 2018. It is thought that the cost overruns could again be as high as €3 million.

“The contractor [JJ Rhatigan] has referred both projects to conciliation under the dispute-resolution procedures provided for in the contract. Due to the confidentiality provisions of the contract it is not possible to disclose the amounts at issue in both projects,” the OPW said in a statement.

When it was opened last year, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said the Galway regional and divisional headquarters and other top-end stations “represent a major investment in Garda infrastructure and will significantly assist An Garda Síochána both in continuing to provide a professional policing service in their regions and also in the delivery of the modernisation and renewal programme”.

‘Sustainable principles’

The buildings comprising the Galway headquarters are clad in limestone and granite, and extend to about 11,000sq m and were designed to incorporate “sustainable green design principles”.

With green roofs and solar panels for water heating, it was designed by the OPW’s architectural services team, led by State architect Ciaran O’Connor.

In addition to new offices, cells and interview facilities, the building is also home to a secure firing range, and is the headquarters of the regional armed support unit. It is the base for about 250 Garda staff.

In addition to the new Garda stations, the Government has signed off on investments across the existing network, including cell upgrade work at 80 stations.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy, who is a member of the Public Accounts Committee, said it was “concerning that a pattern is emerging regarding the OPW’s delivery of projects and contractors.

“This is the second instance in which a project has entered a process of conciliation in relation to new Garda HQs. There’s a gap in the process that needs to be addressed. Specifications and extras aren’t being nailed down, this shortcoming is leading to disputed overruns.”

The new Garda stations have been finished to a high standard, including exterior features designed to aid their function as public buildings and enhancing the appeal of the design. At Kevin Street, for example, there are bespoke railings inscribed with Irish poems, some of them centuries old, all the way through to work by Seamus Heaney from the 21st century. The oldest poem cast into the railing is the Cride Hé, from the ninth century. A total of €75,000 was spent on art for Kevin Street.