Council not aware of takeover plans for dockland body

Mon, May 28, 2012, 01:00

DUBLIN CITY Council has said it has not been made aware of any plans for it to take over the powers of the Dublin Dockland Development Authority.

The Government plans to abolish the financially indebted authority and transfer its planning powers to the city council, following a critical report from the Comptroller and Auditor General, according to newspaper reports yesterday.

The comptroller report, detailing the authority’s poor governance and financial management during the property boom, is expected to be brought to Cabinet by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan this week.

The comptroller in 2010 began an investigation into the authority following its involvement in the controversial purchase of the former Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend for €412 million in 2006.

The site was one of the biggest purchases of the boom. It was bought with loans from Anglo Irish Bank and AIB, by Becbay, a firm owned by developer Bernard McNamara, financier Derek Quinlan and the DDDA. The value of the 25-acre site has fallen to €30 million.

The new chairwoman of the authority, Prof Niamh Brennan, in 2010 recommended the investigation after two independent reports, one dealing with planning issues and the other with financial and accounting practices, strongly criticised the DDDA’s workings.

One report found there were serious weaknesses in aspects of its planning functions, while the other concluded there was a loose culture in relation to some internal financial controls, and that value-for-money considerations were largely absent.

A week before the general election in February 2011, Fine Gael said it intended to abolish the DDDA. The authority’s five-year term of office formally ended last month but Mr Hogan promptly granted it an extension. Earlier this month, he appointed a new council to the DDDA.

Labour TD Kevin Humphreys said if the DDDA is subsumed into the city council, the community representatives on the authority’s council must be retained.

“At this stage, given the financial state of the DDDA, its powers probably should be transferred to the city council, but the community council must be kept on to ensure the interests of local people are fully represented.”

The Irish Times last month reported the city council was seeking the payment of a €3 million debt owed by the DDDA for the construction of the Samuel Beckett Bridge.

The bridge cost €60 million to build, €10 million of which the DDDA agreed to fund, the council said. The final €3 million has been outstanding since September 2009. The council has continued to pursue the debt, but with no success to date.