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DUP: explore legal liability for £1m Mac repair

By Amanda Ferguson

Published 13/04/2016

The entrance to the £18m Metropolitan Arts Centre
The entrance to the £18m Metropolitan Arts Centre
The crumbling stonework

The legal liability over the near £1m cost to repair the Metropolitan Arts Centre in Belfast should be explored, the DUP has said.

It is understood the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), headed by Sinn Féin's Caral Ni Chuilin, has just received the bill for work on the crumbling city centre venue.

Concerns have been raised that the public purse is having to "pay twice" for the building.

Stonework at the entrance of the £18m Mac began failing last year.

DCAL committee chairman Nelson McCausland told the Belfast Telegraph questions over liability for the problems needed to be answered.

"It is essential that there is clarity around liability and responsibility for these problems," he said.

"We need to know at what stage people became aware there was a problem with the stone and who was responsible for ensuring the work was satisfactory.

"We need to know where the legal liability lies so the cost can be recovered."

A DCAL spokesman said: "As the minister has advised the Assembly, the department has approved a business case from Arts Council NI amounting to £938,000 in relation to the Mac.

"This is an estimate of the costs likely to be incurred for the repairs to the facade and for the replacement of defective pipe work. It also includes the cost for management and supervision of the works, as well as professional and legal fees.

"Procurement of a design team is currently under way and is expected to be completed by the end of May."

After the Assembly election on May 5 the number of Stormont departments will reduce from 12 to nine. The new Department for Communities will encompass the existing functions of DCAL.

Mr McCausland said he was concerned about the costs after Ms Ni Chuilin approved an event to bid farewell to the department.

The spokesman added: "To mark the formal end of DCAL as a separate department a business-focused event, looking back over the 17 years of the department, will be held later in April.

"Final costs... will be kept to a minimum."

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