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No reserve price was set before LÉ Aisling was sold for €110,000

The ship has since gone up for sale for €683,000 by a private seller.

THE DEPARTMENT OF Defence has come in for further criticism after it stated that it had not set a reserve price for the sale of the former Irish Naval vessel the LÉ Aisling.

The ship was sold at auction in Cork for €110,000 earlier this year. It has since been put on sale for a starting price of $750,000 (€683,000) by the private seller.

The Department of Defence said in a statement today that it had set no minimum reserve price on the vessel. It also said that the sale was appropriate and that “in all such situations the prevailing market determines the price achievable”.

“The Department of Defence is aware of the proposed resale of the former LÉ Aisling for an asking price of $750,000,” a spokesperson said.

However, the Department has no trailing obligations in relation to the vessel and any hoped for resale price is a matter for the new owner.

Speaking this morning on Today with Seán O’Rourke, Fianna Fáil Defence spokesperson Lisa Chambers criticised the sale, and called on the Defence Minister (Enda Kenny) and Department to answer questions around it.

She said the Defence Minister should answer whether he thought the State had gotten value for money with the sale.

“If there was no independent evaluation, why not?,” said Chambers.

If there was not reserve put on the vessel before it went for auction definitely the minister needs to answer questions on that.
Because in my view that is taking a risk that is unnecessary in terms of the sale of a State asset.

In its statement the Defence Department said that the vessel – which was decommissioned three years ago – was a drain on resources while it was in the State’s possession.

“While the vessel remained in the ownership of the Department, it continued to be a drain in terms of both maintenance and personnel costs and resources,” a spokesperson said.

It was also taking up scarce berthage space in the Naval Basin.  The vessel would also have seen a deterioration in condition and consequent reduction in value as time went by.

In view of this, the Department said it was “imperative that the vessel was sold at an early date”.

If a reserve price was set and was not met, the Department would have incurred further costs to dispose of the vessel by way of scrap in an environmentally sound manner.

Speaking earlier to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell said that he believed the sale would be raised at the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday.

The LÉ Aisling’s sister ship the LE Eimear was sold for €320,000 in 2013.

Read: ‘It’s embarrassing’: LÉ Aisling sold by State for €110k – it’s now on the market for nearly €700k

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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