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Tipperary County Council Auditor’s Report On Liberty Square For Year Ended Dec. 2021.

Statutory Audit Report to the members of Tipperary County Council for the year ended 31st December 2021.

* See section 7.3 For Tipperary County Council’s Auditor’s Report on Liberty Square Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

The Liberty Square Enhancement Project in Thurles seeks to deliver a vibrant Liberty Square at the heart of Thurles. It is hoped this €10m project will enhance the attractiveness of Thurles as a place to live and a place for investment / employment. The project has evolved and developed over a number of years
with support and input from Thurles Chamber and extensive public consultation which influenced the design of the scheme.

Liberty Square, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Funding for this project is to be provided as follows:
URDF €5m (Urban Regeneration and Development Fund).
Council Match Funding €5m.

Phase 1
Following a successful bid for funding, consultants were appointed to develop designs for this project. The main contractor, for phase 1, was appointed in October 2019 and the tender amounted to €2.8m excluding VAT.
The new car park off Liberty Square opened on 1st October 2020 and Phase1 of the project reached substantial completion on 23rd December 2021, with a ‘defects completion period’ ending on 22nd December 2022.
‘Change Order Claims’ including interest by the contractor amount to €3.4m while an ER (Exchange Rate) Determination of €880k, has been made in this regard. This equates to 31% above the original contract price.
A ‘Notice of Dispute‘ regarding the determination of claims for works undertaken during the contract has been submitted by the contractor. While it has been jointly agreed by both parties that a conciliator will be appointed prior to the completion of the project, to mediate the disputed determinations, in accordance with the terms of contract, this has not happened to date.

Phase 2
Consultants were appointed in December 2021 to prepare the Phase 2 Part 8 drawings and documentation. The Complete Options Report including preferred option and preliminary design is expected by the end of 2022 with Part 8 Planning expected to commence in Q1 2023.
Cost estimates are to be completed by the end of Q2 2023 and are subject to agreement for the final cost for Phase 1, rising input costs, shortages and increasing energy costs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit, and the war in Ukraine.
[Surely the Russo-Ukrainian War began to affect energy costs only in Ireland, after March 2022, (I remain confused here.)].
This project will be reviewed again in 2022.9.

Chief Executive’s Response
I am satisfied with the robustness of project management and governance structures that are in place in Tipperary County Council dealing with the delivery of Project Ireland 2040 approved projects and in this particular case the structures that are in in place in Thurles Municipal District.
Thurles MD has a dedicated Project Manager in place to manage these major projects and the associated contractual risks.
The project management is further strengthened by the oversight of the Project Ireland 2040 Steering Group and the District Delivery Group and also by the engagement of competent external experts to supervise the site and the works and to manage the contractual claims, the subsequent financial determinations and any dispute resolution processes.


Closure Announced Of Immigrant Investor Programme.

  • Programme to close to all new applications.
  • Existing applications will continue to be processed in the normal way.

The Minister for Justice, Mr Simon Harris TD has today obtained approval from Government to close the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) to further applications from close of business tomorrow, February 15th 2023.

Mr Simon Harris TD

The Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) was a pathway for non-EEA nationals to secure an immigration permission in Ireland on the basis of long-term investment in a range of options approved by Government under the Programme.
The IIP was introduced by the Irish Government in 2012 to encourage inward investment for the creation of business and employment opportunities in the State.
The programme was designed to encourage investors and business professionals from outside the European Economic Area to avail of opportunities of investing and locating their business interests in Ireland and acquire a secure residency status in Ireland.
Applicants to the IIP were required to be high net worth individuals with a personal wealth of at least €2 million. The IIP required applicants to invest a minimum of €1 million for a minimum of three years or €500,000 as part of an Endowment (or €400,000 as part of joint endowment). The funds used for an investment had to be from the applicant’s own resources and not financed through a loan or other such facility.

Announcing the closure of the Programme, Minister Harris stated: “The Immigrant Investor Programme was established over a decade ago during a time of unprecedented economic difficulty to stimulate investment in Ireland that would be of strategic and public benefit to the State.
Since its inception, the Programme has brought significant investment to Ireland and has been operated by my Department to the highest professional standards.
However, it is important that we keep all programmes under review including any implications for wider public policy, such as the continuing appropriateness and suitability of this programme for cultural, social and economic use.
We have also taken on board a number of reports and findings from international bodies such as the EU Commission, Council of Europe and OECD on similar investment programmes.
Taking all of this into account, and informed by both internal and external reviews, I have recommended that it is now timely to close this Programme to new applications, and have received Government agreement to close it for further applications from close of business tomorrow, February 15th 2023.”

Since its inception, the Programme has approved investment of almost €1.252bn that has benefited many enterprises, both economic and social, including community and sporting organisations.

Applications will no longer be accepted from close of business tomorrow, February 15th 2023. The closure of the Programme will not affect existing projects or individuals already approved under the programme. The Department of Justice will continue to monitor existing approved projects in relation to the delivery and for compliance with the terms of the Programme. Current applications on hand at the time of closure will continue to be considered.

The Government also operates the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP), which was established in 2012, as a way for entrepreneurs with an innovative idea to apply for a residence permission in Ireland, and this will continue.


March 2023 €200 Energy Credit To Proceed Despite Call By European Central Bank To Desist.

The current roll-out, by the Irish Government, of €200 energy credits for March is now expected to proceed, despite instructions from the European Central Bank (ECB), for Ireland to roll back cost-of-living supports.

An Tánaiste, Mr Micheál Martin has stated that the call by ECB boss, Ms Christine Lagarde, will not affect the March payment, same the third payment since October last, but said that the Government must look again to intervene next winter, should inflation rates require further intervention.

Mr Martin confirmed that the Finance Minister, Mr Michael McGrath, together with Public Expenditure Minister, Mr Paschal Donohoe are both working on recommendations to place before all three party leaders, to discuss and approve in the coming days, on the expiry dates at the end of February, for all cost-of-living measures put in place, just last year.

He further confirmed that there would not be a ‘cliff edge’ ending to the measures, but government would continue to examine all past cost-of-living evulations; to determine which ones if any should be continued, while keeping an eye on the full year, including the coming winter of 2023.

While calling on energy companies to pass on lower costs to consumers; the Finance Minister Mr McGrath pointed out that while he would consider calls by the ECB to roll back cost-of-living supports, any extension of future measures would remain a national decision.


Neglect Of Thurles Town Continues.

It was Charles Dickens’s character Wilkins Micawber who warned eloquently of debt’s downside.

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen and six, result happiness.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.”

For tourists headed southwards into Thurles this coming holiday season, the pictures shown here, on left and right of this text, are enough to encourage the visitor to quickly move elsewhere, rather than “Dwell A While” as our town website encourages.

This road, highlighted in the pictures, is the N62, a busy national secondary route in Co. Tipperary, which forms a junction with the M7 motorway, south of Roscrea, latter, unlike Thurles, an acknowledged heritage town, which attracts a large amount of both domestic and foreign tourism.

While our two resident politicians and Municipal District councillors and Municipal District officials continuously regurgitate details learned of a few new funded projects; maintenance of past projects are forgotten and permitted to decay.

The above permitted dereliction and neglect within the town, is evidence of poor quality administration, and once again begs the question amongst residents; “What do we get in return for our Local Property Tax payments, not to mention Rates and Vehicle Parking Charges?”

More on this and the continued waste of taxpayer’s funds, by Tipperary Co. Council, in the coming days.


Three Tipperary Meat Processing Plants Approved For Exports Of Beef To China.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr Charlie McConalogue, has announced the resumption of Irish beef exports to China. Stakeholders in the industry have obviously welcoming this development, since the Chinese market previously imported Irish beef to the tune of €96 million in 2019.

Chinese buyers of Irish beef have placed orders with a number of processors and cattle eligible for export to China have been processed in a number of facilities throughout Ireland as of Friday, last January 27th 2023.

In total twenty four Irish sites are currently listed on the China Imported Food Enterprise Registration (CIFER) website, each approved to export beef to China, with some of these sites slaughtering cattle while other sites store or process the beef.

The Irish Meat Processors in Co. Tipperary who have been approved for the export of beef to China are as follows:

ABP Cahir Kilcommon, Cahir, Co. Tipperary.
ABP Nenagh Grange, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.
Ashbourne Meat Processors (Roscrea) Castleholding, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary.

Irish beef exports to China and including Hong Kong, latter which operates as a special administrative region with different market access rules, were worth €45 million in 2020, down from exports of €96 million in 2019. Readers will remember that in May 2020, Irish beef shipments to China were suspended following the confirmation of an isolated case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or referred to as ‘Mad Cow Disease,’ a neurological disorder of cattle.
Note: This isolated case of BSE did not enter the food chain and posed no risk to human health. Nevertheless, beef exports to China were immediately suspended at the time, purely as a precautionary measure, and in line with the bilateral protocol on trade agreed with the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC).