Saturday 3 December 2016

Council chief told Poolbeg firm vote could be ignored

Published 24/08/2015 | 02:30

Dublin City Chief Executive Owen Keegan
Dublin City Chief Executive Owen Keegan

Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan told the company behind the Poolbeg incinerator that "two unhelpful votes" by councillors against the controversial project were no reason for concern.

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In a letter to the president and CEO of the US-based company Covanta last year, Mr Keegan said a lack of political support for the €500m public-private partnership project should pose no threat to it going ahead.

The correspondence followed in the wake of a special meeting called by Mr Keegan last September at which 50 of 52 members of the council voted against the controversial project going ahead.

Incinerator

In response to concerns raised by the then Covanta CEO Anthony Orlando following the vote, Mr Keegan said calling the special meeting "undoubtedly" gave him "greater control over the process and the release of information".

The letter, released under Freedom of Information laws, outlined how a number of factors had contributed to the vote against the incinerator, but Mr Keegan stressed that the decision did not lie with the elected members.

"The decision to proceed with the project is legally a matter for the four Dublin local authority chief executives," he wrote.

"Paradoxically the fact that it is a decision for the CEs creates a situation where elected members can respond favourably to the relatively small number of local objectors.

"I appreciate how someone unfamiliar with the Irish local government process might view the developments with some concern," he wrote.

He added that a lack of "political support should in no way lead" the company "to question the wisdom of processing with the development".

Mr Keegan said that another reason a vote had failed to pass was because the council was "largely dominated by anti-government parties and independent councillors".

Irish Independent

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