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Cowen gave green light to debt decisions

Taoiseach Brian Cowen had responsibility for sanctioning the borrowings of the troubled Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA).

The legislation which set up the agency in 1997 made the Minister for Finance and the Environment Minister accountable for authorising its debts.

Mr Cowen had the finance portfolio and Dick Roche was Minister for the Environment when the DDDA got involved in the controversial purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle site in Dublin's Ringsend.

The authority now needs a bailout from the taxpayer after racking up debts of €213m.

Deirdre de Burca, who resigned as a Green Party senator last week, has accused her former leader John Gormley of sitting on the findings of a report into the DDDA.

Ms de Burca said the report would contain "significant evidence of malpractice" that would cause discomfort in Fianna Fail. She said "there is a marked reluctance to confront Fianna Fail or to cause instability in government.

Tensions between the coalition partners were heightened last week after former Defence Minister Willie O'Dea blamed the Greens for forcing his resignation.

The DDDA report was submitted to Mr Gormley, the Environment Minister, by the authority's chairwoman Prof Niamh Brennan on February 5.

Mr Gormley said he will publish the document once he receives advice from Attorney General Paul Gallagher on its legal implications.

He said Ms de Burca's claim was "completely without foundation".

Mr Gormley insisted that the former senator had not been privy to the information contained in the reports.

Fine Gael's environment spokesman Phil Hogan said his party has been trying to establish the truth about the DDDA's activities for the past year.

He pointed out the agency was not supposed to be a "drain on the Exchequer" but now has an operating loss of €27m and a deficit of €213m.

Green Party chairman Dan Boyle indicated today that the report should be published by the end of March.

Prof Brennan, who is the wife of former Progressive Democrats leader Michael McDowell, was appointed to chair the DDDA last March.

comurphy@herald.ie


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