Calls to delay winding up Dublin Docklands Development Agency rejected

The Government rejected calls from the Public Accounts Committee to defer the dissolution of the Dublin Docklands Development Agency, until the Longboat Quay saga is concluded.

Documents from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to the PAC, seen by the Irish Examiner, show that the committee’s request to keep the DDDA alive was rejected by the Department of the Environment.

In its report into the botched sale of the Glass Bottle site in Ringsend which examined the role of the DDDA, the PAC said the dissolution of the DDDA should be deferred until any liabilities that arise for public authorities in respect of the structural deficiencies that now exist at the Longboat Quay apartment complex, are discharged.

But in response, Paschal Donohoe, minister for public expenditure, said he was informed by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government that it does not accept this recommendation. Mr Donohoe’s top official, Robert Watt, told the PAC that the legislation governing the dissolution of the authority provides a mechanism for addressing the assets and liabilities position of the authority on its dissolution.

“Matters relating to Longboat Quay and the liability of the remediation of structural defects in that development are currently before the courts and it is not clear when they will be resolved,” Mr Watt wrote.

“In light of the ongoing litigation and to provide certainty in terms of the future development of the Docklands area it was deemed appropriate the authority should be dissolved,” he added.

“This decision was taken in light of the fact that the act provides that, on dissolution, the assets and liabilities, including choses-in-action (or rights to sue), of the Authority, transfer to Dublin City Council and this transfer includes any possible outstanding liabilities for Longboat Quay,” Mr Watt concluded.

The Dublin Docklands Development Authority (Dissolution) Act 2015 was signed into law by President Michael D Higgins on Christmas Eve last year. Sections 5 and 6 of the Act provide that the Minister shall, by order, appoint a day to be the dissolution day and on the dissolution day, the Dublin Docklands Development Authority shall stand dissolved, Mr Watt told the PAC.

“The minister has now signed the commencement order and with effect from 1st March 2016 the Authority stands dissolved,” he added.

Earlier this month, the management company at a Dublin apartment company accused Dublin City Council of going back on a deal to pay for essential fire safety works. Owners at Longboat Quay had expected to have costs covered, but they have now been told they will have to come up with around €450,000 after the council indicated it would scale back its contribution. An offer by developer Bernard McNamara to carry out the works at cost was rejected due to procurement issues.

Longboat Quay was built in 2006 with owners paying between €450,000 and €750,000 each.

Last year around 900 residents were threatened with evacuation due to fire safety deficiencies. The evacuation deadline was moved to 2017 due to legal proceedings. The original estimate to cover the works of just under €3.9m has been scaled back to €2.5m, with the receiver and DCC originally pledging half each.

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