DDDA chief resigns 11 months early

 

THE DECISION of the chief executive of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA), Paul Maloney, to resign came after a late-night meeting of the organisation’s board on Tuesday night, it has emerged.

Mr Maloney, whose five-year contract expires in June 2010, left with immediate effect. He will be paid a €150,000 lump sum to cover the payment he would have received in salary if he had served his full term.

In a brief statement, the DDDA board, which is chaired by Prof Niamh Brennan, said Mr Maloney had “retired early” and “the board wishes to thank him for his contributions over the past four years”.

The authority, which has planning powers over the docklands area, invested heavily in the former Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend, bought together with developer Bernard McNamara and financier Derek Quinlan.

Last night, Prof Brennan, who took over in Easter after her short-lived predecessor, Gerry McCaughey stood down, said the authority faces “significant challenges in the months and years ahead. Given these challenges and the fact that Mr Maloney’s contract was due to expire in June 2010, the board will, in due course, appoint a new CEO to ensure the authority fulfils its important mandate in partnership with its key stakeholders,” she said.

The Department of the Environment said it had “been informed” that Mr Maloney had “taken early retirement”, but stressed the authority’s independence.

“The department has no direct role in relation to staffing issues at the DDDA, which is a commercial State body that operates independently of the department and is fully self-financing, receiving no exchequer funding,” it said.

Gerald Kelly, who serves as the authority’s director of social regeneration, has been appointed by the board as acting chief executive until a recruitment of a successor to Mr Maloney takes place.

The Irish Glass Bottle site cost the three-way partnership €450 million and was partly financed with the help of a €288 million loan from Anglo Irish Bank. The bank’s chairman, Seán FitzPatrick was also chairman of the authority at the time the loan was taken.

The value of the Ringsend site had fallen by 60 per cent by last January, according to a review then carried out by Davy Stockbrokers, leaving the authority with substantial losses on its original €75 million investment.

Prof Brennan is understood to have conducted a full review of all of the authority’s contracts and dealings since she took the helm after Mr McCaughey’s sudden resignation.

The former Century Homes boss quit less than a month after Minister for the Environment John Gormley appointed him once it emerged that his wife, Sophie, had lived in Italy for a year to avoid capital gains tax on the proceeds from the sale of the company.

Last October, the High Court ruled that the authority had “acted outside its powers in granting ‘fast-track’ permission to developer Liam Carroll to build a €200 million new headquarters for Anglo Irish on the north quays.

Mr Carroll’s transfer of a portion of the site to the DDDA raised “a reasonable apprehension of bias” by the authority in reaching its final decision on the developer’s planning application, the High Court said.