2 Jul 2009

Many thanks to Deputy Terence Flanagan for his relentless efforts in obtaining answers to some questions I put to the Public Accounts Committee on the cost overruns on the Ballymun Regeneration Project. It took him two years.

I’m not going to go over the whole thing again but, basically, the project to complete the reconstruction of Ballymun is years overdue and hundreds of millions of Euro over budget. Many moons ago the Comptroller and Auditor General published a report which, in my view, kinda pulled its punches in explaining what is an epic of tiger era indulgence and mismanagement. So, I composed 14 questions which I thought the Comptroller’s report had failed to address and sent them, via Terence, to the PAC.

Earlier this week, we got a response from Ciaran Murray, Managing Director of Ballymun Regeneration Limited. I won’t bore you (yet) with his ten page reply. Here’s a little amuse bouche.

Around about 2000, and amid a great deal of fanfare, it was announced that a €1 point something billion business and technology park would form a 100 acre centrepiece to the larger Ballymun regeneration project. It was to be co-developed by Green Properties and Ballymun Regeneration Ltd.

It went by the wall.  But not before Green Properties had run up some costs. I wanted to know how much of these costs the taxpayer had handed over to Green.  This is how Ciaran Murray responded.

'... A sum of € X  (see footnote) million was paid to the Developer on dissolution of the proposed joint venture.  €Y million of the figure related to the actual costs incurred by the Developer in acquiring 29.6 Acres of land, the title to which has been transferred to Dublin City Council and is an asset of the Regeneration Company.  The balance of €Z million was paid to the Developer representing 50% of the actual third party professional fees incurred by the joint venture in developing a Local Area Plan and obtaining planning permission on the lands.  As part of the Dissolution Agreement the Regeneration Company acquired the sole rights to use any designs developed and the benefit of the Planning Permission obtained.  All of this expenditure was funded through internal capital receipts generated by BRL through property disposals and only actual vouched costs were recouped in exchange for the acquisition of valuable assets.'

Foornote: Confidentiality clause inserted in joint venture Dissolution Agreement (settlement of high court proceedings) at the request of the Developer.

The developer was Green Properties. X is said to be somewhere around €6 million but I’d be interested in hearing what the exact figure is.

The €X million cost to the taxpayer doesn’t, of course, take into account the amount Ballymun Regeneration itself spent on wages, administration, legal fees, consultants fees, etc. before the business was wound up. What are we talking about here - €2m maybe €3m? We’re getting into electronic voting territory on this one element of the project alone.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 4:51:20 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
It's totally unacceptable that a government body would not publish cost figures that the taxpayers have to bear. Who or what entitles them to do this? This happens regularly as well with government-commissioned reports which find fault with named organisations or individuals. The names are witheld on some pretext or other, usually under threat of legal action.

However, while we as a people remain comatose and unresponsive we deserve this regular shafting by the unaccountable powers-that-be. We must have developed a liking to being shagged in our sleep during the last 15 years of one-party rule.

vivement la révolution!

fintan duffy
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