Business Irish

Sunday 4 December 2016

Docklands authority cuts wage bill by €2m

Shane Phelan Investigative Correspondent

Published 17/05/2010 | 05:00

THE Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) has slashed its wage bill by €2m in a desperate attempt to meet a €5m-a-year interest bill from the disastrous purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle site.

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The disclosure comes just weeks after the Irish Independent exposed how authority management and board members spent huge sums on foreign travel and fine dining.

Now half of the scandal-hit authority's 50 staff has been let go to make savings.

The DDDA previously had a €4m-a-year payroll bill, with average pay packages working out at €80,000 per employee.

However, the authority has been crippled by interest repayments after investing €109m -- a 26pc stake -- in the €426.8m Irish Glass Bottle site four years ago.

The site was never developed and the DDDA has admitted its investment is now virtually worthless, with the repayments leaving the authority unable to operate on a break-even basis.

Correspondence between the authority's former chief executive Paul Maloney and the Department of Finance -- seen by the Irish Independent -- reveals how the plan to reduce staff was drawn up last July "due to the severe budgetary position of the DDDA".

A DDDA spokesman said most of the staff cuts were made by not renewing contracts when they expired. Some four-fifths of the authority's staff were on fixed-term contracts.

The correspondence shows how staff cuts were also proposed through early retirement, shorter working weeks, and job sharing.

The DDDA, which was set up to transform the Dublin docklands by attracting public and private investment, was part of a consortium with developers Bernard McNamara and Derek Quinlan, and other smaller investors, which purchased the Irish Glass Bottle site in October 2006.

As well as the interest payments, the authority has also become locked in a costly dispute with Mr McNamara over the site.

A report by consultants Farrell Grant Sparks on options for the future of the site has been considered by the Cabinet, but no decision has yet been made.

Planning

The Department of Environment has refused to release the report under Freedom of Information rules.

Meanwhile, the official publication of reports on finance and planning at the authority has been delayed until the end of the month.

Environment Minister John Gormley had hoped to publish the reports earlier. However, the publication date was put back after a number of parties made submissions disputing the reports' draft findings.

The draft reports found internal controls were overridden and value-for-money considerations were largely absent at the authority. They also concluded that key information on planning issues was deliberately and systematically withheld from the current executive board.

Inappropriate planning decisions were made in the past, exposing the authority to possible legal actions, according to the reports.

Irish Independent

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