Further €10m wiped off asset value of docklands authority

PLANS to steer the debt-laden Dublin Docklands Development Authority away from oblivion may be too late to salvage the stricken company.

The authority yesterday published its annual report for 2009 and wiped another €10 million off the value of its assets, a year after it wrote off more than €183m in assets.

It has seen the worth of its investment in the Irish Glassbottle site virtually cancelled. And its debts have risen to €71m.

It has also guaranteed €29m in borrowings for the other two partners in the IGB site. The authority is examining the legal consequences of this, but if it is called on, the debt will rise above €100m.

That is not factoring in the fact it lost €16m more than it earned in ordinary business last year. Fine Gael’s Environment spokesman Phil Hogan said a note in the accounts which questioned if the company could trade should property prices fall any further, was a serious concern.

“The report makes more depressing reading for taxpayers. The deficit for the authority now stands at €71m, an increase of €22m from last year. The property writedown since the starts of the crisis now stands at a massive €196m, an increase of €10m on last year.

“This continues to drag down the taxpayer. In fact, page 53 of the report states if the economy continues to decline, the viability of the authority is in question. This would leave the taxpayer with an even bigger bill. Still, nobody is being held accountable,” he said.

The extent to which the authority is losing money has been curtailed. But Labour Party spokesman Joanna Tuffy said the work of the new authority chairman Niamh Brennan was trying to close the door after the horse had bolted.

“Reckless decisions by the board have now brought the authority to the brink of bankruptcy and left the taxpayer facing a gigantic financial black hole. The purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle site, in particular, was an act of spectacular recklessness.

“The current disastrous situation is a direct result of some of the appointments made to the board of the authority in recent years, where banking and speculation seems to have been the criteria used for selection, rather than any commitment to the dockland area,” she said.

A statement from Environment Minister John Gormley said the Government had noted the annual report. It praised the work Professor Brennan had done to improve the way in which the authority operated.

“The minister has acknowledged the effort of the authority’s chair, Professor Niamh Brennan who has, in her first year, has done much to position the authority to address the significant challenges it faces.

“She has already introduced stricter financial controls and a clearer delineation between the authority’s planning and development functions,” the statement said.


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