The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) paid planning consultants over £3m for their work on the abandoned Maze stadium project.Two of the main cheerleaders for a hare-brained scheme, which should never have gone beyond the "Wouldn't it be grand one day if..." stage, attacking the money paid to analyse said project?
In total, the department has paid over £3.5m in consultancy fees for the project in the past three years.
A Belfast advertising firm was paid more than £10,000 for advice on the naming rights for the stadium, despite work never having started.
Sinn Fein and the SDLP, who supported the project, have attacked the costs.
The DCAL minister at the time Gregory Campbell told department officials that the cost estimated at between £156m and £193m would not be compensated by the social and economic benefits.A much cheaper solution which each governing body seems quietly happy enough with.
He instead proposed to give money to each of the governing bodies to redevelop their own facilities.
Bazzer McElduff, Sinn Fein's King of Unintentional Irony, had this to say:
"Their decision not to go ahead with the Maze site was a political decision rather than an economic one,"SF's support for the project was primarily down to economics then? Nothing to do with them getting their museum also thrown in for free? And the additional bonus of, in all probability, delivering the death knell to the Northern Ireland international football team?
The site made no sense from an economics point of view, a logistics point of view and most importantly a sporting point of view. That just left the politics.
The SDLP's Patsy McGlone, who's starting to be bit bolshy about the amount of taxpayers' money disappearing into the Stormont blackhole, delivers a smidgeon of sanity:
"You don't spend this sort of money unless you're absolutely sure that you're going to be going ahead with the project"
You can never be absolutely sure in a case like this obviously (that's the point of coughing up for consultants in the first place), but much more practical thinking should have been done on this long before PWC got their greasy mitts on our hard earned taxes.
talking of PWC, just one more head-shaking small fact:
Management consultants Price Waterhouse Coopers were paid £196, 935 for "business planning" work, while the same company charged £1,491 for its employees to brief the minister on the work it had carried out.Having almost paid the bean-counters 200,000 for "business planning work", the minister then had to cough up another 1,500 to them to discover its final conclusion?
I'm in the wrong line of work.