Minister to wind up docklands authority
MINISTER FOR the Environment Phil Hogan is to wind up the Dublin Docklands Development Authority in the wake of a report’s “damning findings” on its activities during the property boom.
The report, by the State’s spending watchdog, the Comptroller and Auditor General, was published last night. It has disclosed serious shortcomings in the authority’s conduct of its planning and development, particularly its involvement in the purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle site in 2007.
The site was bought for €431 million by a consortium that included the authority, but is now valued at a little over one-tenth of that, at €45 million.
The report has found the authority told the Department of the Environment that the value of the Irish Glass Bottle site was approximately €220 million at a time it was actively discussing an outlay of more than €400 million for it.
The authority did not conduct a detailed risk analysis of the deal, nor did it get the site independently valued before the purchase went ahead, according to the report.
“The failed venture to develop the Irish Glass Bottle site on the Poolbeg peninsula has impacted on the authority’s financial position,” stated the report. Its total exposure came to €51 million after the loans were taken over by Nama. The authority had total liabilities of €32 million at the end of 2010.
The report warns about future risks and says there are future “going concern challenges”.
Mr Hogan last night confirmed the Government decided last Tuesday that the authority would be wound down over an 18-month period. He said a transitional board, chaired by Dublin city manager John Tierney, would oversee the process.
The “branding” of the docklands would be continued, said Mr Hogan, who confirmed new arrangements for planning and development in the docklands would be decided by the end of 2013.
Mr Hogan praised improvements in accountability and governance at the authority in more recent years, particularly after the appointment of Prof Niamh Brennan as chairwoman.