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Monday 25 September 2017

Ex-Docklands chief launches attack on former chairwoman

Professor Niamh Brennan. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Professor Niamh Brennan. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Paul Maloney

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

THE former chief executive of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority has launched an astonishing broadside on the semi-state agency's former chairwoman Prof Niamh Brennan.

Paul Maloney, who stepped down from the DDDA amid the fall-out from the disastrous purchase of the €412m Irish Glass Bottle site, strongly criticised Prof Brennan at an Oireachtas hearing.

Mr Maloney claimed Prof Brennan, a corporate governance expert brought in to oversee inquiries into the former board, had "issued report after report on the DDDA without ever offering an opportunity for those involved to present their views or have a say".

AGHAST

In his first public comments since leaving the authority in 2009, Mr Maloney said he had "watched aghast" over the past four years as there had been the "most negative one-side destruction of the reputation of the DDDA".

A report commissioned by Prof Brennan in 2010 found shortcoming in reporting to the board, a loose culture in relation to internal systems of financial control, and weaknesses in the planning functions of the authority.

It also found the DDDA did not obtain a professional valuation of the Irish Glass Bottle site when it was purchased by Becbay Ltd, a consortium involving the DDDA, developer Bernard McNamara and financier Derek Quinlan in November 2006. After the property market crashed, the site was worth just €45m and Becbay was put into liquidation by NAMA.

Mr Maloney said he had agreed to appear before the committee because he "could no longer stand aside as so much disinformation and untruths have been printed about this deal".

He cut short his attack when he was reminded by committee chairman John McGuinness that Prof Brennan was not present to defend herself. She is expected to appear at a hearing in the new year to give an account of her investigations at the DDDA. Prof Brennan was out of the country last night and unavailable for comment.

The DDDA is currently being wound down following a damning report by the Comptroller & Auditor General, which was critical of the Irish Glass Bottle deal.

It had found the DDDA told the Department of Environment it expected to bid €220m for the site, and that there was no evidence that the authority formally informed the department it would actually be bidding almost double that amount.

At the committee, Mr Maloney denied misleading the department over the value of the site.

He said the wrong figure had been sent to the department in error in a letter dated October 2, 2006, when the DDDA was seeking ministerial approval to borrow up to a limit of €127m.

He said he had not authored of the letter, did not see it before it was sent and did not sign the letter.

INCORRECT

Mr Maloney told the PAC he became aware a few days later that the incorrect sum was in the letter. He said he immediately corrected this at a board meeting, where he gave board members, including a representative of the department, an estimated sale figure of €375m.

However, Comptroller & Auditor General Seamus McCarthy told the committee it was clear from correspondence between the Department of Finance and the Department of Environment that officials approved higher borrowing limit on the basis of the €220m valuation.

Irish Independent

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