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Former Dublin docklands boss defends record and slams 'grievous accusations'

Paul Maloney said he had, for four years, “watched aghast” as the authority’s former chair Niamh Brennan issued “report after report” which contained “the most grievous accusations which have since been withdrawn or discredited”.

Paul Maloney appearing before the Public Accounts Committee today
Paul Maloney appearing before the Public Accounts Committee today
Image: Screengrab via Oireachtas TV

THE FORMER CHIEF executive of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) has strongly criticised the agency’s former chairperson at the Public Accounts Committee today.

Paul Maloney said he had, for four years, “watched aghast” as the authority’s former chair Niamh Brennan issued “report after report” which contained “the most grievous accusations which have since been withdrawn or discredited”.

Maloney was the authority’s CEO when it purchased the former Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend for €412 million in early 2007 of which €291 million was borrowed. The site was subsequently devalued in the property crash and is now worth around €45 million. The DDDA made a loss of around €52 million on the site.

Appearing before the committee of his own volition, Maloney said: “I can no longer stand aside as so much information and distruth (sic) has been printed about this deal.”

Brennan identified “past failures in corporate governance” in her time as chair of the DDDA, which she said in May 2010 had “undermined public confidence in the organisation, imperilled our financial position and given rise to serious concerns about past decisions made by the Docklands Authority”.

Anglo

The PAC has previously heard that the former head of the defunct Anglo Irish Bank and DDDA board member, Seán FitzPatrick as well as Lar Bradshaw, another Anglo executive, declared their position when it was revealed at a DDDA board meeting in 2006 that developer Bernard McNamara and his Becbay consortium were seeking finance from the bank for the purchase of the site. The board agreed there was no conflict of interest and the two remained in the meeting.

Mounting a strong defence of the former board today, Maloney said he “never saw an act or comment or interference by an Anglo board member or any director for that matter that was not singly focused on what was within the code of conduct” and in the interests of the authority’s objective.

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Maloney said that Bradshaw, the DDDA’s former chair, discharged his duties with “utmost propriety and professionalism and not a scintilla of evidence has ever been brought forward to suggest otherwise”.

He admitted that “undoubtedly mistakes were made” in the purchase of the former Irish Glass Bottle site, but sought to point out that that a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General “confirms that not one cent state of taxpayers’ money was ever received or spent by the DDDA”

He added: “The DDDA have now confirmed to me last week it will never request it [taxpayers' money] at any time in the future. They will close the Authority and hand a significant sum back to the Exchequer. Is there a single media outlet that will report that sentence?”

He said that the subsequent nationalisation of much of the Irish banking system was “a decision completely outside of the DDDA”.

‘Totally untrue’

Maloney also denied that he sent a letter to the Department of Environmnet stating that the DDDA expected to pay €220 million for the site, saying this is “totally untrue”.

He explained to the committee that the letter was sent by a junior colleague and that when he saw the letter at a board meeting a week later he sought to correct it .

“The official who wrote the letter fully corrected the sale figure to €375m and explained the reason he incorrectly included the €220m which was the last book value,” he said.

He said he was “proud of every single moment I worked with the DDDA” and insisted that the Irish Glass Bottle site “is no ghost site” adding that “it is on the doorstep on the hub of this recovery”.

A lengthy hearing before the PAC continued until just before 2.30pm this afternoon with the committee’s acting chair, Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell, summing-up that the debacle ultimately “cost the State money”.

Niamh Brennan has indicated to the PAC that she will appear at the end of its hearings on the C&AG report into the DDDA purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle site when all other witnesses have given submissions.

Docklands chair: Governments had 14 years to close Glass Bottle loophole

Read: Why Seán FitzPatrick won’t appear before the Public Accounts Committee

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Hugh O'Connell

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