Salesforce engaged in major lobbying to add storeys to Docklands headquarters

US multinational tech company targeted a Minister, civil servants and advisers

An impression of Salesforce Tower located   to the immediate left of the Central Bank’s Docklands headquarters

An impression of Salesforce Tower located to the immediate left of the Central Bank’s Docklands headquarters

 

US multinational tech company Salesforce has engaged in a major lobbying effort for a controversial plan to add extra storeys to its new Docklands headquarters, targeting a Minister, civil servants and advisers.

The company sought to persuade Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to join its planning battle with Dublin City Council over the project, telling him his “urgent attention” was needed to provide “greater clarity” on the issue.

The lobbying push is revealed in documents released to The Irish Times under Freedom of Information legislation.

In March, Salesforce’s Ireland country leader Dr David Dempsey wrote to Mr Murphy regarding implementation of new building height guidelines he published in December which lifted maximum building heights in towns and cities.

The company asked the Minister to “provide greater clarity to the local planning authorities about how they should implement these guidelines, with particular regard to how they should currently apply in strategic development zones [SDZS]”.

It comes after a disagreement between the company building the project and Dublin City Council over which rules govern building heights in the capital’s SDZs.

In a High Court action lodged last month, Johnny Ronan’s Ronan Group Real Estate argued that the new guidelines superseded the height caps in the SDZ where the Salesforce Tower is being developed, and that the council had erroneously told its councillors that the SDZ rules still had priority.

“It had been our understanding that the guidelines, as a key national policy, were to be broadly implemented and done so without delay and, therefore, that the guidelines should apply to this application. We now understand, however, that there might be the need for the Government to provide further clarifications on the applicability of the guidelines,” Dr Dempsey wrote.

“We would respectfully request that you consider providing greater clarity to address any potential confusion or conflict between the guidelines and the SDZs.”

The company has claimed that it will be able to hire another 1,000 workers if the extra floors are approved. Salesforce asked Mr Murphy to give the matter his “urgent attention…as a decision is due imminently on this specific application”.

Senior civil servant

The documents also show that Salesforce raised the issue with the most senior civil servant in the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Following a meeting with Salesforce, the secretary general of that department, Orlaigh Quinn, emailed her counterpart in the Department of Housing, saying the company was “experiencing some difficulties/confusion regarding their major building plans for an urban campus”.

“This uncertainty is not helpful, and may impact on their plans to create 1,500 new jobs in Dublin,” she wrote.

Separately, a senior US-based inhouse lobbyist for the firm contacted a special adviser to the Taoiseach, also in March. Eric Loeb wrote to John Carroll asking to discuss the new building heights guidelines.

A Government spokesman said that Mr Loeb provided “an update on Salesforce’s Dublin expansion plans” during the call.

A spokesman for Salesforce had no comment.