Education minister Batt O'Keeffe has given his clearest indication yet that Dublin Institute of Technology's (DIT) troubled €1.5bn move to Grangegorman in north inner-city Dublin could be abandoned altogether.
Responding to a series of questions about the project from the Sunday Tribune, a spokesman for O'Keeffe said he could not "make any guarantee that the project will or will not go ahead".
More than €14m of taxpayers' money has been poured into the project, which was the brainchild of Bertie Ahern.
Responding to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin's Aengus Ó Snodaigh, O'Keeffe revealed last week that his department had provided €14.16m in grant aid to the Grangegorman Development Agency (GDA)?since it was established in 2005.
The aim of the agency is to oversee the development of the lands at Grangegorman on behalf of O'Keeffe's department, the Department of Health, the HSE and DIT. O'Keeffe revealed that €0.095m was given to the agency in 2006, €3.525m in 2007, €6.685m in 2008 and €3.863m to date so far this year.
The revelation comes as it emerged that the entire board of the GDA, set up to oversee the move, effectively retired last month when its term of office expired. Yet O'Keeffe has so far failed to appoint a new board and has declined to say when he will do so.
The GDA has also been waiting over 10 months for sanction to proceed with its draft strategic plan.
But despite the delay, and O'Keeffe's repeated public statements that he intends to do so, he has still not brought the plan to government for approval.
Meanwhile, the cabinet is continuing to consider the recent report of An Bord Snip Nua, chaired by economist Colm McCarthy.
Its many recommendations included the withdrawal of all current funding to the GDA – about €1.5m – and the amalgamation of Tallaght IT and Blanchardstown IT with DIT. This would avoid further expenditure on the "planned €1.5bn capital development programme associated with Grangegorman", the report said.
Asked if O'Keeffe was fully committed to the project, and would guarantee that it would proceed in full, his spokesman said he could not "make any guarantee that the project will or will not go ahead until the matter has been considered by government".