State took ‘light touch’ to management of DDDA

THE Government took a “light touch” approach to the Dublin Docklands Development Authority and failed to carry out reviews which could have highlighted problems at the troubled organisation sooner.

Environment Minister John Gormley yesterday published two reports examining corporate governance at the DDDA, one of which highlighted failures by his own department.

The first report found “serious weaknesses” across aspects of the DDDA’s performance on planning.

It found the DDDA had prioritised development over proper planning as it regenerated the docklands.

It also found key information had been withheld by senior DDDA executives from the executive board.

The report pointed out that, under the 1997 legislation which established the DDDA, the Department of the Environment had “ultimate responsibility” for the organisation. But after heavy involvement in the “initial” years, the department “appears to have taken a relatively ‘light touch’ to the strategic management of (the) DDDA,” it stated.

“It is surprising… that over a period of 10 years the department has not considered it necessary to undertake its own independent review of the operation of the authority as both development agency and planning authority but relied upon the annual reports and monitoring reports produced by the authority.”

The second report examined financial issues, and found that “value-for-money considerations were largely absent in the work of the authority”.

The two reports made 140 recommendations, many of which have already been implemented.

New DDDA chairwoman Prof Niamh Brennan and Mr Gormley have said further investigation would be required into a number of issues at the DDDA, particularly its involvement in the €412m purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle site in 2006.

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