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Tuesday 20 March 2018

Senior civil servant on docklands board when site bought

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

A SENIOR civil servant in the Department of the Environment was a board member of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) when it decided to pay more than €400m for the Irish Glass Bottle site in 2006.

Mary Moylan, currently serving as assistant secretary in the department with responsibility for finance, sat on the DDDA executive board in 2006 when it decided to spend millions of euro of taxpayers' money on a speculative land deal.

The DDDA was a shareholder in Becbay, the company that paid €431m in October 2006 for the Ringsend site. Other shareholders included property development companies owned by Bernard McNamara and Derek Quinlan. The land is now valued at €45m, and the 10-hectare site is lying idle.

A damning report from the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) found the DDDA board was warned the bid was being made in an overheated property market, and found a detailed analysis of the investment did not seem to have been carried out.


It also found that the Department of the Environment was told the value of the site was about €220m, despite a price of €400m being discussed at board level. The department was never told when a decision was made to double the bid amount previously indicated.

Serious questions now surround the role that Ms Moylan played in the decision to go ahead with the purchase.

It is not clear if she attended board meetings when the decision was made, and the Department of the Environment last night refused to answer questions about her role.

They include why the department was allowed to remain under the impression that the site's value was around €220m, despite the €400m figure being discussed at board level; whether regulations were broken by the board not passing on the real value of the site; and why the department didn't question the lower valuation when the cost of the land emerged.

The department also refused to say if Environment Minister Phil Hogan would ask Ms Moylan to explain her role.

A spokeswoman said Mr Hogan would consider a report from the Dail Public Accounts Committee into the C&AG report, and the view of the new board of the DDDA, before deciding if any action should be taken against former board members. This is likely to happen in September.

Irish Independent

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