Friday 27 November 2009

Cowen refuses to say if State will have to rescue docklands body

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen has declined to be drawn on the question of whether the State will have to rescue the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA), which will today report an estimated operating loss of €27 million.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the authority as a commercial body “cannot default on its loans” and he asked if the taxpayer “is going to have to fork out €27 million” for the authority when the taxpayer “is already expected to put €27 billion” into Anglo Irish Bank.

Mr Cowen said the authority’s annual report and accounts would be issued today and that they “will be dealt with by the chairman at the publication of those accounts”.

Fine Gael raised the issue for the second day running and Mr Kenny noted that in the wake of the floods “the Government was able to come up with a maximum of €12 million for people whose livelihoods are washed away.

“It now appears as if the Government is going to have to bail out the Dublin Docklands Authority to the extent of €27 million, which operating loss resulted from involvement of bankers and developers in unregulated and unsupervised purchase of assets to this extent.”

The docklands authority was funded by Anglo Irish Bank and personnel from the bank “were on the board of the authority”, Mr Kenny said.

“Now, almost €460 million was spent on the purchase of the glass bottle site, of which DDDA owned 26 per cent. Does the Taoiseach think that this is an appropriate way to conduct business?”

The authority “is a commercial semi-State body financed entirely from its own resources generated through the acquisition, development and sale of assets in the docklands,” Mr Cowen said.

“The Department of the Environment has a general oversight role ensuring that the authority complies with its statutory requirements and that it continues to fulfil its role in revitalising and regenerating the docklands area.”

Stressing the €27 million operating loss, Mr Kenny said the DDDA “cannot default on its loans” and he asked again if taxpayers would have to pay €27 million when they are already being asked to put “€27 billion into Anglo Irish Bank, which authorised the loans”.

External auditors KPMG audited the authority’s accounts and representatives of the DDDA will appear before the Oireachtas environment committee next week, Mr Cowen said.

Chairwoman Prof Niamh Brennan “has particular expertise” in corporate governance and two reports are due on planning and the authority’s finances, the Taoiseach added.

He could not “speculate on what the review might say, but obviously that report will be considered” along with any recommendations arising from it.

Irish Times

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