Dublin Port executives to appear before Oireachtas committee

Managers accept invite to discuss credit card spending, Brexit and cruise-ship business

Freight in Dublin Port. Photograph: Alan Betson

Freight in Dublin Port. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Dublin Port Company executives have agreed to appear before an Oireachtas committee to answer questions about expenditure on company credit cards and hospitality at the State-owned company.

On Friday the Oireachtas committee on transport, tourism and sport invited executives at the country’s busiest port to discuss a number of issues, including the recent revelations around expenditure.

It emerged just over a week ago that the port managers at the company spent more than €500,000 last year on flights, restaurants and entertainment on 22 credit cards. The expenditure included almost €95,000 on the credit card of the port company’s chief executive, Eamonn O’Reilly.

The board of the port company has asked accountants Mazars to carry out an external review of credit-card expenditure and hospitality to confirm that it is “both appropriate and properly authorised”.

A statement released by the board on Sunday noted that “no malpractice” was identified in the reported company expenditure on credit cards and that all spending was “on company business” and in line with its strategy to work with “our stakeholders, including local communities”. Part of the expenditure was on entertainment for people in the locality.

‘Malicious’ leak

The statement described the leaking of confidential information as “malicious” and said that it appeared “designed to create an incorrect and damaging perception of inappropriate spend by the company”.

The matter will now be investigated by an Oireachtas committee once the port executives and the committee decide on a date for their appearance.

The committee called the executives to discuss changes in the reduction of cruise ships entering Dublin Port, the impact of Brexit activities on the port and “recent media reports regarding governance issues”.

“The company will respond directly to the committee and will be pleased to brief the committee in full on the company’s Brexit preparations, cruise-ship plans and its strong governance structures, including the Mazars review,” said a company spokeswoman.

The port is the focus of an extensive lobbying and public-relations campaign by a group including Dublin retailers called the All-Ireland Cruise Ship Action Group, which is pushing for port management to overturn its decision to reduce the number of cruise ships arriving in the port to facilitate developments works.

The group’s representatives, including Lorcan O’Connor, a director of Carroll’s Irish Gifts, raised concerns about the long-term future of the cruise-ship business when they appeared before the Oireachtas committee last month. The committee subsequently decided to request a meeting with Dublin Port.