28 January 2016
By Tom Collins
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has raised concerns around public procurement process & e-tenders following a number of issues being made apparent by community groups.
Ní Riada said,
“I recently met with a community group that applied for funding for the refurbishment /extension of their community hall. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government implied that tenders for the construction works could either be advertised on e-tenders website or a national newspaper.
“The Community Council opted to advertise on a national newspaper. It subsequently appointed a builder and carried out the works. However, as part of the inspection process, the Department deemed that advertising on a national newspaper was inappropriate and not in keeping with Public Procurement regulations.
“It penalised the Community Council by applying a fine of 25% on the construction cost element of the project. This resulted in the Community Council losing a grant of slightly in excess of €28,000. The loss of a grant of €28,000 is imaginably putting extreme stress on the community.
“I therefore wrote to the Commission asking whether any European directive, regulation or guideline stipulates that tenders for such projects must be advertised both online and in national newspapers and whether it believes that it is appropriate that a member state would withhold EU funds from a community organisation due to an error originating from an office of that member state.
“Community groups are working for the benefit of their local areas and therefore this work should be encouraged, not blocked by bureaucratic barriers. Awaiting the commissions reply, I will continue to work alongside community groups to ensure projects like this continue and are supported.” ENDS