Monday 22 February 2010

De Búrca rejects Gormley claim

Former Green Party senator Déirdre de Búrca today rejected a claim by the Minister for the Environment that she had never raised concerns over the operation of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) with him, or his Department prior to her recent resignation.

Ms de Búrca released the copy of an email, allegedly sent by her to John Gormley in August 2009, relaying public concerns about the authority.

"The email was sent to Mr Gormley's private email address to ensure that it received his immediate and personal attention," she claimed. "I had a brief verbal discussion with him about the issue, and he encouraged me to send the email to his private email address. I had several further discussions with the Minister about the DDDA issue over subsequent months."

Ms de Búrca yesterday called for the immediate release of the DDDA’s report, claiming it contained “significant evidence of malpractice” that would cause discomfort in Fianna Fáil.

But Mr Gormley said he would publish the reportedly “explosive” report once he receives advice from Attorney General Paul Gallagher on its legal implications.

A spokesman for the Minister said Ms de Búrca had “never once” raised the issue with him prior to her resignation. “The only interaction she ever had on it was when John Gormley himself raised the issue at a parliamentary party meeting to inform colleagues of his concerns about the authority and the need to address them,” he said.

Ms de Búrca, who resigned from the Seanad last week, has said she was prompted by the failure of Fianna Fáil to honour a commitment to her party, rather than her personal disappointment at not getting a position in EU commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn’s cabinet.

One of the major issues the report is believed to deal with is how the DDDA became involved in the ill-fated consortium led by property developer Bernard McNamara to buy the former Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend for €412 million at the peak of the boom.

It is believed the report makes a large number of recommendations on corporate governance. It is accompanied by two other reports Prof Brennan commissioned – by chartered accountant Ray King and planning consultant Declan Brassil.

Yesterday Ms de Búrca said: "I’m not convinced that there is the willingness there to go ahead to publish it and to act on its findings. My own sense would be that there will be an attempt to sit on it or to delay its publication,” she said on RTÉ Radio 1’s This Week programme.

It is understood the report has only been read by a “tight circle” of people, including the Minister and Attorney General and that it is unlikely to be published until after the Government has made a decision on what to do about its contents.

According to sources, the report would have “legal implications” and could be the subject of court actions by individuals named. One source said it was “pointing big red arrows at salient issues including unhealthy relationships and abuses of power”.

Irish Times

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