Statement by Bishop Colm O’Reilly concerning the tender process for the organ restoration of Saint Mel’s Cathedral

28 Feb 2012

Statement by Bishop Colm O’Reilly concerning the tender process for the organ restoration of Saint Mel’s Cathedral

The following statement has been issued by Bishop Colm O’Reilly, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, concerning the tender process for the organ restoration of Saint Mel’s Cathedral, Longford:

“When Saint Mel’s Cathedral experienced a catastrophic fire on the night of Christmas Eve/Christmas morning 2009, I immediately made a public commitment that our beloved Cathedral would be rebuilt.

“Today I reaffirm this commitment and in doing so I wish to state that, arising from the trust which has been placed in me in my role as bishop, I have a key responsibility to lead this significant project in the most transparent and cost effective manner possible.  Within these parameters, it is my intention that the rebuilding of Saint Mel’s, and all that lies within, must be completed to the highest possible standard in order that it will appropriately serve the faithful of Longford, our diocese and the country as a major place of Catholic worship.

“The restoration and future of Saint Mel’s Cathedral depends on the trust and support of the faithful.  In order to safeguard this trust, responsible and sometimes difficult decisions are necessary to uphold the common good.  In this regard I have received, over the last number of days, a formal representation from a Dáil deputy (see below), and separately media questions, both querying the awarding of the contract to rebuild the organ of Saint Mel’s Cathedral to the specialist Fratelli Ruffati of Padua, Italy.  In this context I wish to place the following on the public record:

•    On the basis of the tender submitted, the committee established to oversee the organ tendering process recommended that the contract be offered to Fratelli Ruffati on the basis of musicality, design of the organ and value for money.  A letter of intent has been issued.  There will be a cost saving of over €30,000 by going with the Fratelli Ruffati tender.

•    The committee established to deal with the organ tendering process included the best expertise available in Ireland: it was chaired by Professor Gerard Gillen and included Dr John O’Keeffe (Maynooth) and Fintan Farrelly, the Saint Mel’s Cathedral organist, as members.  In addition to these musical experts the acclaimed church architect, the late Dr Richard Hurley, was a member until his passing last December.  I, along with Father Sean Casey (Cathedral Project Committee) and Gerard Neville (Punch Consulting Engineers), were also on this committee.

•    Three firms who gave expressions of interest were invited to submit plans and they also gave an oral presentation. All did so and each was heard for over an hour.

“On behalf of the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois I must be accountable for every cent received and spent in the interest of the faithful.  Where possible employment contracts are awarded to Irish sub-contractors but, regardless of external pressures, I would be failing in my duty if I did not take value for money and quality of finished product into account.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those people who are deeply concerned and strongly supportive of the work that we are endeavouring to do to rebuild Saint Mel’s Cathedral.”


Further information:

Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444

Letter from James Bannon TD