Saturday 24 March 2018

Debt-ridden DDDA faces further scrutiny

ine Kerr Political Correspondent

ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley has not ruled out a further investigation into the debt-ridden Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA).

But any future action will depend on an unpublished report which has been compiled by consultants Farrell Grant Sparks on the future of the controversial Irish Glass Bottle (IGB) site.

The report, which will outline a range of options and recommendations for the Government, is expected to go before Cabinet tomorrow. Ministers will then decide if more scrutiny of the DDDA's dealings is needed, Mr Gormley said.

Fine Gael's Phil Hogan last night upped the ante on the Government by calling for a full inquiry into the financial dealings and practices at the DDDA.

Questions need to be asked about the links between "bankers, developers and politicians" that led the DDDA to make its planning decisions, Mr Hogan said.

Documents obtained by Fine Gael, he said, showed that a deal was being negotiated before the DDDA board signed-off on plans to make a bid for the controversial site. DDDA chief Paul Moloney sought government backing without board approval in order to get the "wheels rolling" on the IGB investment, Mr Hogan said.

Controversy centres on the decision of then Finance Minister Brian Cowen to allow the authority to borrow up up to €127m towards the purchase of the IGB site in 2006, based on an estimate that the land would be worth €220m. But within days of the decision, the site was bought by the DDDA, in partnership with businessmen Bernard McNamara and Derek Quinlan, for €426.8m


Taxpayers are now facing the prospect of a multi-million euro loss after the value of the site collapsed. The authority has already written off the value of its 26pc stake in the consortium to "nil", while the site was recently valued at €50m.

Three draft reports, compiled by new DDDA chairman Professor Niamh Brennan, were published last week by Fine Gael. But the party is now seeking a "look back" that examines the cross directorships between members of the DDDA, Anglo Irish Bank and the Government.

"I am calling on Minister John Gormley to do the right thing and ask Professor Niamh Brennan to investigate in detail, all matters of corporate governance surrounding the DDDA, Anglo Irish Bank and the Departments of Finance and Environment which resulted in a costly and wasteful property speculation deal," Mr Hogan said.

"The taxpayer is entitled to answers. It would seem that there was an insider deal that saw a decision being made before proper due diligence had been carried out and answers are needed on the circumstances surrounding those decisions."

Earlier, Mr Gormley said he had "no difficulty" with looking at all aspects of the DDDA. But he said he is now waiting on an options paper from consultations in relation to the IGB site before deciding on the "way forward".

Irish Independent

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