Temple Bar trust board wants audit of €2.3m project
Architects being given right to hold 10 free events in the square at an estimated cost of €1,500 each
14/1/2012. - NEWS - The rainscreen “umbrellas” in Meeting House Square, Temple Bar. Dublin City Council is to conduct an audit of the project. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
The board of Temple Bar Cultural Trust has asked Dublin City Council to carry out an audit of a €2.3 million rainscreen project for Meeting House Square prior to transferring its functions to the council.
This follows revelations that Seán Harrington Architects, which designed the rainscreen’s “umbrellas”, was paid some fees in kind, being given the right to hold 10 free events in the square, at an estimated cost of €1,500 each.
The trust has been racked by controversy since an audit by the council of corporate governance found board minutes and papers were “not available” to show loans of €2 million and overdraft facilities of €500,000 provided by Ulster Bank for the rainscreen were approved by the board.
The report said minutes “should record all major decisions” and that declarations should not be made to third parties relating to “company minutes that do not exist”.
The board agreed the trust would be wound up, as recommended by a 2011 report by Latitude consultants on the future of Temple Bar. The transfer of cultural and property-related responsibilities is “to be completed by year end”.
Cultural functions will be taken over by the council’s cultural, recreation and amenities department, which is headed by assistant city manager Brendan Kenny.
The trust’s remit would be “reviewed and developed” as part of the council’s new cultural strategy, the board said. A future for Temple Bar must “balance the interests of all stakeholders, including residents, cultural institutions and commercial interests”.
Trust chairman Dáithí O’Ceallaigh said the findings of a trust-commissioned management investigation of the council’s earlier audit “confirm a historical absence of governance and inadequate financial procedures that have eroded trust in the company”.
‘Failed in its duty’
The report by former Ibec chief Turlough O’Sullivan said the board “failed in its duty of oversight and governance by not enquiring into and satisfying itself that proper procedures were in place around financial transactions”.
It concluded that corporate governance failings were “extensive and surprising, and were for the most part basic and elementary”, saying an initiative implemented last November had “brought the governance of the company in accordance with good practice”.
Mr O’Sullivan found the confidentiality of board documents was not maintained, that board members were “entitled to consider initiating disciplinary procedures against certain employees”.
Chief executive Dermot McLaughlin is currently suspended pending an investigation by the trust’s board regarding severance terms of €100,000 given to four senior staff members.