The total cost of a new Dáil printer has reached an estimated €1.8 million, €200,000 higher than the €1.6 million outlined by the Oireachtas just two weeks ago.

The clerk of the Dáil, Peter Finnegan, has submitted a further report to the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the purchase of the printer which did not fit into the room designated for it. 

The report, seen by RTÉ News, outlines additional costs to those referred to in a report submitted to the committee on 28 November.

The cost of the printing press itself remains at €808,000 and at €1.36m when associated equipment such as a pile turner and guillotines, as well as VAT, are taken into account. 

Costs incurred by the construction work required to raise the ceiling of the room to accommodate the printing press are €267,000 excluding VAT, and not the €229,000 outlined in November. 

This is because electrical costs are €126,000 and not the €94,000 previously outlined, while additional external civil and structural engineering fees of €11,408 have also been added. 

When VAT is included, the total building costs associated with the printer reach €314,000.

In both reports, Mr Finnegan identified additional €195,000 costs incurred by the Office of Public Works (OPW). When VAT is included, the cost is €221,325. 

In his latest report, Mr Finnegan compares the cost of the Komori printer, purchased in 2019 which amounts to €808,000 excluding VAT and €994,000 including VAT, to a Heidelberg Printer purchased in 2004 which cost €1.24m including VAT.

The report will be discussed at the PAC tomorrow morning and Mr Finnegan as well as officials from the OPW have been put on standby to appear before the committee in the afternoon if members decide they should do so.

Read more
Report finds cost of Dáil printer topped €1.6m
PAC hears forklift needed to load paper in new Dáil printer

A note raising concern about the ceiling height in the room designated to take the Oireachtas printing press was "missed by the evaluation team", according to Mr Finnegan's new report. 

The note by the manufacturer Komori in April 2018 stated: "The head room for the press foot boards to the ceiling is limited." 

Mr Finnegan concluded in his investigation: "I am advised that this note was missed by the [Oireachtas] evaluation team." 

However, at a subsequent meeting in May, between representatives of Komori and Oireachtas staff, the concern over the size of the printing press appears to have disappeared. 

Mr Finnegan states: "The evidence available to me is that the issue of head-height was discussed... and those present were satisfied that sufficient height was available, particularly since 90% of the operational tasks could be undertaken from the lower platform." 

The contract was signed at the end of the month. 

Mr Finnegan concludes that "important lessons to be learned from this project" and he adds that "these will be addressed as a matter of priority".  

His document outlines eight key recommendations, including a provision that "all project teams must include specialist architectural expertise where a project could involve structural modifications" and "business cases must include an estimate of the cost of ancillary works and items".

Meanwhile, a fire engineer from the Office of Public Works is inspecting the Oireachtas printing press today to complete a health and safety risk assessment of the facility.

Separately, a health and safety certification of the Komori printing press, and ancillary equipment, is also in progress and is hoped to be finalised "by the end of next week."

According to Clerk of the Dail, Peter Finnegan, if these assessments are positive, then what is described as "comprehensive training" of Oireachtas printer staff can get under way - something which will "take 2-3 weeks."

In a statement to RTÉ News from SIPTU, the trade union which represents the relevant Oireachtas staff, said: "SIPTU has informed management that once the health and safety and risk requirements have been met and verified, members will be ready to enter the next stage of the process."

A report completed for the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, seen by RTÉ News, states that after this training is completed, the supplier will be in a position to finalise the commissioning process for the new machine.

The report, however, does not give a target date for when the printing press will become operational.

Additional reporting Paul Cunningham