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Temple Bar boss made secret deal over square

THE boss of the troubled Temple Bar Cultural Trust (TBCT) struck a secret deal with a top architectural firm, providing it with exclusive access to the popular Meeting House Square.

Dermot McLaughlin entered a controversial agreement with Sean Harrington Architects, entitling the company to stage its own events at the square over a 10-year period.

The firm, which carries out a number of projects for Dublin City Council, agreed to waive an undisclosed amount in architectural fees in return for access to Meeting House Square.

Mr McLaughlin, who is suspended from the trust on full pay, struck the deal in 2011 without the knowledge of the board.

TBCT last night said the architectural company also has access to a range of facilities and services provided by the trust up to value of €1,500 per event.

The trust is owned by Dublin City Council on behalf of the taxpayer.

The agreement was only recently discovered by acting CEO Ray Yeats and cannot be reneged on.

"The TBCT board has obtained legal advice, which indicated that the agreement was validly entered into and as a result, TBCT is bound to honour it.



"This agreement was reached with the previous TBCT CEO and, if it were presented today, it would not be entered into."

According to the trust, Sean Harrington Architects is entitled to access the square on 10 occasions between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2021. The firm has so far used the square once.

As part of the deal with Mr McLaughlin, the company will also have access to services such as cleaning and security.

Mr Harrington's company designed the Rainscreen Project in the square. TBCT borrowed €2.5m for the project.

Mr Harrington said the deal struck with Mr McLaughlin was "legitimate".

"We are very happy with the agreement and any issues now are a matter for Temple Bar Cultural Trust," he said.

According to Mr Harrington, he intends to use the square for charitable purposes, among others.

"We will look at ways we can help promote the square and bring it to life," he added.

Board member and city councillor Mannix Flynn has maintained the Rainscreen project itself should have been included in the internal audit which exposed widespread financial mismanagement at the company in 2011.