Tuesday 27 June 2017

We're not stalling over docklands report, says Taoiseach

ine Kerr Political Correspondent

Claims that the Government is stalling on a key docklands report because it would discomfort Fianna Fail are "completely without foundation", Taoiseach Brian Cowen said yesterday.

In the Dail, Mr Cowen dismissed the assertion by former Green Party senator Deirdre de Burca that the Government is sitting on the controversial report into the debt-laden Dublin Docklands Development Agency (DDDA).

The report into the financial affairs and corporate governance of the DDDA would be published in a matter of weeks once the Attorney General has dealt with it, Mr Cowen said.

He hit back at claims by Ms de Burca that the Government was "sitting on" the unpublished report because it would cause "serious discomfort" for Fianna Fail. He told the Dail that the claims were "completely without foundation".

In his time as Finance Minister, Mr Cowen had personal responsibility for signing off on the borrowing bills of the debt-laden docklands agency.

Explosive

But Mr Cowen has insisted the reportedly "explosive" report will be published once all the legal difficulties are worked through.

"It will come forward for consideration by the Government ... it will be published in due course," he said.

"As regards the innuendo and insinuation, that is completely without foundation."

The act under which the DDDA was established made the Finance Minister and Environment Minister responsible for authorising all of the agency's borrowing.

In 2006, the respective incumbents were Mr Cowen and Dick Roche.

During this time, the DDDA was granted permission to extend its borrowing limit so it could take part in the disastrous purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend, Dublin.

The DDDA is now €213m in debt and needs a government bailout.

It has since emerged that the DDDA obtained approval for a hike in its borrowing limit within just three weeks of asking for permission. Under the rules governing the agency, it could borrow €50m. However, in order to obtain €75m for the Irish Glass Bottle site, it required permission from Mr Cowen.

Fine Gael's Phil Hogan has claimed that the fast approval of the loan was an "astonishing turnaround for a speculative punt using taxpayers' money on a property deal that has gone horribly wrong".

Irish Independent

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