Minister for the Environment John Gormley has pledged to “act decisively” when he receives the corporate governance reports on finance and planning from the chair of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA).
He has ruled out for the moment a Fine Gael call to bring the DDDA within the remit of the Comptroller & Auditor General but said he would keep the role of the C&AG in auditing the authority “under review”.
The Minister was responding to Fine Gael environment spokesman Phil Hogan’s private member’s Bill to bring the authority within the C&AG’s remit and allow the Comptroller to carry out special reports on the authority’s activities.
Mr Hogan said the Minister and Fianna Fail had “serious questions to answer” about the authority and its purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle site and he believed that opposing the Bill could only be seen as “an attempt to avoid political accountability”.
The Dublin Docklands Development Authority (Amendment) Bill he said would allow the C&AG to launch a “full investigation” into the authority, which he claimed was “hijacked by developers and Anglo-Irish Bank
executives and the taxpayer now faces a bill of millions” as the Government seemed set to bail out the authority which had losses of €27 million last year.
For the Comptroller to investigate an authority at least 50 per cent of its funding must come from the exchequer. The Minister said the authority’s losses were expected to be reduced to €10 million by the end of 2009 and “the Authority is aiming to return to a break-even position in 2011 on its operating costs”.
Mr Hogan described the authority as a “financial septic tank” and said “the C&AG has special investigatory powers that expose waste of taxpayer’s money and highlights poor financial decisions. This was recently best demonstrated through its special report into Fas.”
He added that if Mr Gormley wanted a “fresh start” for the DDDA with increased accountability, he should have “no problem” supporting the Fine Gael Bill.