The Deputy will be aware that project to which he refers has been devolved to Westmeath County Council (WCC) for delivery.
It is in the nature of any building project that difficulties can arise. The objective always is to deal with these as efficiently as possible to minimise delay as well as cost. However, these difficulties can lead to some additional costs by way of requests for change orders by the contractor and can arise during the construction period of any building contract. The project to which the Deputy refers is no different in that respect. In particular, the Deputy will also recall from my response to the relevant parliamentary question that the contractor experienced a number of issues such as unforeseen ground conditions and the severe weather events of late 2017 and early 2018. These have given rise to requests for change orders.
In addition, and as with many building contract, issues can arise that form disputes between the Design Team and the contractor. There is nothing unusual about this and the Public Works Contract provides dispute resolution mechanisms to deal with these matters. A number of issues have arisen on the project in question and these have been referred through conciliation in accordance with the contract. I am not in a position to provide the Deputy with any further detail at this time given that this conciliation is ongoing.
I would, however, reassure the Deputy that the Department is following the procedures it has in place for cost control over the project during the construction stage. These include the provision of monthly progress reports by WCC. I can assure the Deputy that WCC has the full support of my Department in its efforts to achieve the objective of minimising costs and delays on this project without compromising the integrity of the building being delivered.