Cantillon: Maloney gets to have his say

Fomer Dublin Docklands Development Authority chief executive aggrieved

When he appeared before the Dáil Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, the former chief executive of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, Paul Maloney, made it very clear he had waited years to have his say, and now wanted to say it.

Maloney obviously feels very aggrieved at the way inquiries into the DDDA's past decisions have been conducted, in particular being critical of Niamh Brennan, who was appointed to the authority in March 2009, just a few months before Maloney, who had taken up his position in June 2005, left.

Maloney was also critical of the State in relation to its failure to close a loophole in the law governing tenants’ rights over property, which he said had led to a considerable loss to the public purse. He pointed out that the DDDA, which he said had returned a net profit to the State, found itself being subject to inquiries while there was no-one before the PAC to answer questions onthe loophole debacle which had cost the public dearly.

Thursday’s hearing was in the main taken up with the purchase of the former Glass Bottle site in Ringsend, in November 2006, by Bernard McNamara and the DDDA, for €411 million. The purchasers, and their bankers, lost badly.

The beneficiaries were the Dublin Port Authority and South Wharf plc, with the latter being a former tenant of the authority that had used the loophole to assert certain rights to the site. The port company gained €138 million from the Ringsend sale, but could have gained a further €130 million, Maloney said.

He didn’t explain how he came to these figures. After an out of court settlement between Dublin Port and South Wharf, it was agreed that the former would get approximately one third of the proceeds, and the tenant approximately two-thirds.

The deal represented a coup for Paul Coulson (pictured) , who had a personal stake of 3.4 per cent in South Wharf and whose company Yeoman International Holdings owned 23.19 per cent.

The problem with the landlord law was pointed out by the Law Reform Commission in 1989 and again in 1992 but nothing was done until 2005, by which time it was too late to stop South Wharf asserting its interest.