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Saturday 25 November 2017

Now Nama almost loses Google jobs

'You have two hours to save 230 jobs or they go to Sweden,' Minister told

Environment Minister Phil Hogan
Environment Minister Phil Hogan

Ronald Quinlan and JOHN DRENNAN EXCLUSIVE

A lack of urgency by Nama almost cost the country 230 jobs and over €100m of investment by global internet giant Google, the Sunday Independent can reveal.



Google's investment in a new data centre which is now under construction at Profile Park in west Dublin would have gone to Stockholm, had it not been for the last-minute intervention by Environment Minister Phil Hogan with officials at South Dublin County Council.

Incredibly, the minister had to be called in to see that the site Google wanted would have water pipe connections and sewerage services after Nama failed to resolve the issue with the council for over a year.

Today's revelation comes just two weeks after it emerged that 800 jobs promised for Dublin by broadcasting giant Sky were nearly lost to the UK when Nama refused to back down on demands that the company lease more office space than it actually needed. Jobs Minister Richard Bruton rowed in to ensure the Sky deal was done.

In the case of the Google jobs and investment, the Sunday Independent understands matters came to a head at 1.30pm on Friday, August 5, 2011, when a representative for the internet giant informed Profile Park developer David Agar that he had just two hours left to put things right.

Mr Agar was further informed that Google's team in Dublin would be on a plane to Stockholm that evening, bringing plans for the data centre with them, if matters at Profile Park were not addressed to their satisfaction.

It is understood Mr Hogan was contacted by phone immediately and asked to intervene with South Dublin County Council to get the matters Nama had failed to resolve sorted out.

Unaware at first of the absolute urgency of the situation, Mr Hogan is understood to have asked whether the issue could be dealt with the following Monday. The minister was told he had just two hours to fix things, or see the Google project -- referred to as 'Project Blue' -- leave for Sweden.

Mr Hogan contacted South Dublin County Council and the matter of consent for water and sewage connections at the site was resolved immediately.

That evening, a meeting between officials from the council, the IDA and Google saw all remaining issues finalised, the Sunday Independent understands.

Today's revelations will add to the pressure already being felt by Nama chief executive Brendan McDonagh and chairman Frank Daly in relation to how the agency does business.

There is growing concern within Government that both existing and potential jobs are being put at risk as a direct result of the seeming inability of Nama to engage with key business decision makers at home and abroad.

Given the launch only last week of the Government's jobs initiative, in which it has pledged to create 100,000 new jobs by 2016, Nama will come under renewed pressure to redirect its focus from enforcement and short-term debt recovery to assisting with job creation through the use of the property assets under its control.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton told the Sunday Independent last week: "It (Nama) should reorient its culture to ensure it ties in with the realisation that the creation of jobs is a national priority.

"Nama ought to have a clause within its terms maximising jobs consciousness and the creation of employment. I would personally support that. All departments have to be conscious that the central objective and policy of the Government is to get people back into employment."

Sunday Independent

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