Watchdog to quiz failed Docklands quango leaders

Former ministers and members of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, including disgraced banker Seán FitzPatrick, are set to face a grilling by the Dáil public spending watchdog over the failed quango.

The Dáil Public Accounts Committee is to meet soon to draft a list of witnesses it wishes to call as part of its inquiry into the DDDA.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan has decided the DDDA will be disbanded over the next 18 months following the damning findings of a report conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

PAC chairman John McGuinness said it was important to find out how the DDDA had allowed its financial position to go so badly wrong.

Among the findings of the C&AG’s report were:

* The DDDA was part of a joint venture which paid €412m for the former Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend in 2007. Its value in 2011 was just €45m;

* The DDDA did not obtain any independent valuation of the site;

* No risk analysis of buying in an over-heated property market appears to have been carried out by the DDDA;

* The DDDA informed the Department of the Environment the value of the site was €220m at a time when it was discussing paying €400m for the property;

* The DDDA believed it had limited its exposure on the project to €35m when it actually increased at one stage to €81.9m;

* The loss to the taxpayer was ultimately €52.1m.

Mr McGuinness also criticised the lack of oversight by both the departments of the Environment and Finance, as well as the original decision to give the DDDA a remit as a planning and a development authority.

“Both departments should have shouted ‘stop’ at an appropriate time,” he said.

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