I propose to take Questions Nos. 71, 110, 111 and 112 together.
As the Deputy will be aware, the new tender procedure for a national conference centre, which is being conducted in accordance with the EU Council Directive 93/37/EEC, is being organised by Bord Fáilte under the aegis of the independent management board for product development. The proposed centre, with the capacity to handle up to 2,000 delegates, will comprise a number of facilities, including, inter alia, a main auditorium, multiple break-out meeting rooms, foyers and circulation space, high quality restaurant, banqueting facilities, exhibition space and facilities for broadcasting and recording.
The full tender procedure notice was published in the Official Journal of the European Communities on 13 September 1997. The notice was also published in the Irish daily newspapers on 16 September. It invited applicants to submit requests to participate in the tender procedure by 5 p.m. on Monday, 20 October. Bord Fáilte received 12 responses within the deadline set for receipt of applications to tender. On 31 October 1997, invitation to tender documentation was dispatched by Bord Fáilte to seven qualified applicants, six of whom confirmed their intention to submit full tenders before the deadline set, 14 November, for so doing. These six applicants, who will be responsible for providing a site for the proposed development, have three months to submit their tenders, i.e. by the end of January next year, following which the tenders will be assessed. The management board has estimated that it will be late March before it has completed its deliberations.
Under the terms of the tourism operational programme, the agreement of the Government and the EU Commission on foot of a cost-benefit analysis conducted in accordance with Community law will then be required in respect of any final selection made. Before determining tender procedures, my Department consulted the European Commission which has not requested any clarification since then from my Department in relation to the project.