Thursday, 20 June 2013

Ceisteanna (6)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

6. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the timetable for the completion of Dublin's cultural quarter project around Parnell Street which is being supported by the Office of Public Works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29675/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (5 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Public)

The Deputy is aware Dublin City Council is planning to develop a cultural quarter in the environs of Parnell Square. The Commissioners of Public Works have engaged with Dublin City Council on property asset transfers to facilitate this specific development.

Any further information required on this key cultural project is a matter for Dublin City Council.

I asked this question specifically because of the role of the OPW. Perhaps the Minister does not have the full details but Dublin City Council announced a proposal on a new cultural district in Dublin city that involves the construction of a new and innovative library on the site of Coláiste Mhuire on Parnell Square, which is owned by the OPW. This new library and the existing spectacular Hugh Lane Gallery will be connected by a civic plaza. During the launch of that project, some of which has already been funded from philanthropic sources, Dublin City Council stated it is looking at arrangements with the OPW for the transfer of the Coláiste Mhuire site to the council to enable it to do it. Other than the transfer of the title of the property, has the OPW any other ongoing role in the project? Will it make any investment in it or will any other Department invest in it? It is a fine project for the city and the area needs this development. Private funding has been made available and the OPW is directly involved so I would like to see the Office of Public Works having slightly greater involvement.

The OPW has no more involvement than the involvement I have outlined. I have seen the presentation and it is an exciting project for that part of the city. Whether it might be subject to other funding would fall within the general capital expenditure plan and if it made sense, perhaps on a co-funded basis if philanthropic money is available, it would be eligible to be considered for funding under the stimulus plans we have announced.

Can the Minister confirm that €2.5 million was donated by Kennedy Wilson? Perhaps the Minister will ask his OPW officials to have another discussion to see if there is any mechanism for funding as a capital project through the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht or the Minister's own Department to see if the Government can give any further assistance on this project.

The capital budget of the OPW is quite rigid, with a large chunk of it now going to flood maintenance. It might be a cultural project to be supported by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, or an environmental project supported by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. I am writing to every Department to look for projects that might qualify for future stimulus plans. I am not guaranteeing any of them will be advanced but the more competition there is for good ideas, the less we will fall into the trap of looking to the old reliables to do this.