Latest: Auctioneer who oversaw sale of LÉ Aisling claims Department of Defence told him to 'let it go'

Latest: Auctioneer who oversaw sale of LÉ Aisling claims Department of Defence told him to 'let it go'

Update 5.30pm: The auctioneer who oversaw the sale of the LÉ Aisling seven weeks ago has claimed he was instructed by the Department of Defence to take the deal.

Dominic Daly spoke to The Neil Prendeville Show on Cork’s Red FM this morning, and said that there are added costs to naval vessels after they are bought.

It comes after it was confirmed this evening that the State had to keep a skeleton crew assigned to the vessel even after it was decommissioned last year.

That cost the state €370,000 in wages, and another €10,000 in tuggage fees.

The boat was sold in March, but its new Dutch owners have already put it back on the market at six times the price.

Mr Daly said: "The underlying reason why naval vessels don't attract money is that a naval vessel is not certified, it doesn't have papers.

"So the new owner, once he buys her, has to establish a port of registry and also to get classification. And that can be quite expensive."

He said that the man in Holland who bought the LÉ Aisling has at least €300,000 in costs to pay for, which accounts for his €685,000 price tag.

Mr Daly said: "He has to get registration... he will have to dry-dock it, get safety certificates, all sorts of certification and that doesn't come cheaply."

Mr Daly revealed that a lot of people turned up for the auction, but most of them didn't bid because of the expensive paperwork attached to the vessel.

He said: "They would have an understanding of what it would cost them. The vessel was perfectly good, but she had to be towed to Holland, because of the regulations, which doesn't make a lot of sense."

Neil Prendeville asked Mr Daly if it would have been a good idea to have put a reserve price on the LÉ Aisling, so that if the bids didn't reach that reserve price, the Department of Defence could have held onto the vessel.

Mr Daly said that was a matter for the department.

He said: "That wasn't in my realm at all. I conducted the auction, I then took an intermission and I spoke to department officials and they told me to let it go."

Earlier: The Deputy Mayor of Galway has hit out at the handling of the sale of the LÉ Aisling saying "we sold a ship for the price of a car".

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Fine Gael's Pearse Flannery said when it was being decommissioned as a naval vessel, he requested that the LÉ Aisling be gifted to the people of Galway as a floating museum.

He said the ship was twinned with the city of Galway and was berthed and docked in the city frequently.

He said they had numerous communications with the Department of Defence and they asked for a costed business plan, but Mr Flannery said the time-frame given to submit the plan was not sufficient and it became "an insurmountable task in that time-frame".

He said they had until the first week in September last year to submit the plan, otherwise it would not be considered by the Department of Defence.

Latest: Auctioneer who oversaw sale of LÉ Aisling claims Department of Defence told him to 'let it go'

Fianna Fáil's spokesperson on Defence has said the Minister for Defence needs to answer questions and the department needs to provide more detail on the sale of the naval vessel on whether they explored alternative options to the sale that might have realised a better return to the State.

Lisa Chambers told Sean O'Rourke on RTÉ Radio One the State may have "potentially" lost out on this deal and it appears the "lazy approach" was taken by selling it, getting rid of it and taking what they got.

She said: "That's not the approach we should be taking with State assets. Certainly on the face of it, it appears that we may have sold the ship far below the value."

She also said she is concerned that the auctioneer "was not told to put a reserve price on the ship"

She said: "Certainly that would indicate to me that there was a risk being taken by the Department of Defence in not placing an adequate reserve on the ship.

"If there was no valuation, why not?"

She said the Minister needs to answer questions on whether or not he believes the Government thinks it got good value for the sale of the vessel, and there more detail is needed from the Department of Defence on its explanation that it was too difficult to get a market valuation.


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