Waterford Labour Party councillor Seamus Ryan has described the ongoing waste of public money currently being spent on the storage of electronic voting machines at a time of turmoil as “a national disgrace.”

Figures made available to Cllr Ryan last week show that nearly €180,000 is still being spent per annum to store nearly 2,000 antiquated machines throughout the country. “At a time when we are all being asked to tighten our belts this is nothing short of a national scandal,” the former mayor says.

“Since this sorry saga began there has been a failure by successive government ministers willing to bite the bullet and scrap these machines. The original cost of the development and roll-out of the project amounted to €51.32m and what have we the taxpayer got for our money – nothing!”

Formal accounts laid before the Dáil this last year showed that in its three years of operation the Commission on Electronic Voting cost a further €1.899m. More than half of this money – €1.043m – was accounted for by consultancy fees.

“It is time now for the government to scrap these machines and stop throwing good money after bad,” Cllr Ryan blasted. “The money that is currently being spent on these machines would go a long way towards providing much needed health services for our elderly.”

Labour TD Ciarán Lynch had questioned the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley, on Cllr Ryan’s behalf in relation to the period of contracts in regard to e-voting machines not centrally stored; the tendering process involved; the standard of storage specified in each case; the overall cost per contract; and the cost per machine stored.

In 2007, over 60% of the electronic voting machines (some 4,762 in total) were moved to a central storage facility located at Gormanston Army Camp.