I thank the Member for his question. A shortlist of eight companies that could provide expert advice was identified by the Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) using the RIBA database, and that list was reduced to three. Three companies were immediately ruled out as they were already directly involved in the regional stadia programme and projects, another was ruled out as it was not available during the period of the review, and a further company did not respond to CPD's request.
Of the remaining three companies, KSS was deemed to be the most suitable and was, therefore, engaged by CPD. As part of the process to engage the independent technical expert advisers for the review team, CPD specifically sought appropriate conflict-of-interest assurances from the eligible companies to ensure that any company that had previously worked on the regional stadia programme or any of its constituent projects would be ruled not eligible to advise the review team.
The Member raised something similar when I was in front of the Committee, and he will be aware that we are dealing with a very small pool of companies. The connection with that company is with one of the partners that is developing the stadia. They are connected and involved in developing stadia across Britain and, indeed, even other parts of Ireland.
I do not think that there is a conflict of interest and neither does CPD. As the Member will be aware, I deliberately sent the PAR to another Department to look at it, and I asked for the assurance of CPD. It sought assurances and was assured by the response that it got. I do not believe that it is the direct conflict of interest that the Member perhaps perceives it to be.