The Culture Arts and Leisure committee at Stormont is to meet next week to consider the Project Assessment Review (PAR) on the DCAL stadia programme, which was published this afternoon, and the Minister, Caral ni Chuilin and her Permanent Secretary have been asked to appear before the committee.
‘This report vindicates the decision by the committee to conduct its own inquiry into the emergency exiting arrangements for Casement Park,’ said the committee chair, DUP MLA Nelson McCausland.
‘Once again the Sports minister Caral ni Chuilin has treated the committee shabbily. The report was given to the media at 1.00 today but the committee members were only allowed to see it when it was put on the DCAL website at 4.00. This gave the department three hours to brief and to carry out a damage limitation exercise.’
‘The PAR confirms that there are ‘major issues’ with the Casement project and we will want to consider the detail of the report carefully. We will also want to interrogate its contents. It will certainly inform our own inquiry, which will resume in a few weeks at the start of September, and will form part of the evidence.’
‘However our report will be more focussed and in-depth and will receive evidence from a wider range of people. Some of those who will be coming to the committee in September were not contacted by those carrying out the PAR.’
DUP MLA and committee member William Humphrey said, ‘This report is a damning indictment of the department and the way it has handled the Casement Park project. It is no exaggeration to say that it has been shambolic. The minister Caral ni Chuilin is at the head of the department and she must take responsibility for what has happened under her watch.’
‘The report identifies serious governance issues within the project and confirms that there has been a shortage of skills, capability and experience in some parts of the programme.’
‘None of this would have exposed and the flaws in the system would have remained uncovered if it had not been for the intervention of Sport NI safety expert Paul Scott. He must be congratulated for his courage in coming forward and it is imperative that his expertise is utilised to the full as the project is taken forward.’
‘Up until now the Senior Responsible Owner in DCAL has been the deputy permanent secretary Cynthia Smith. However this review recommends that she be removed as the SRO and replaced by a new full-time appointment. That is highly significant as the report says that the previous arrangement is an arrangement seen elsewhere.’
‘This review does nothing to remove the cloud hanging over Caral ni Chuilin for her oversight of the Casement project.’