Anglo-Irish Bank and the DDDA: a poisonous combination

4 April, 2010

It’s well known that the presence on the board of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) of Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick, together with Anglo director Lar Bradshaw, was influential in the DDDA’s disastrous course of action in becoming a property speculator.

As long ago as 2004, independent TD Tony Gregory raised concerns about a conflict of interest between members of the DDDA and Anglo Irish Bank.  The then environment minister Dick Roche gave assurances that no conflict of interest could arise (!)  Subsequently, Fine Gael environment spokesman Phil Hogan claimed in the Dáil that the DDDA was “run like a downtown branch office of Anglo Irish Bank”.

A key factor in the story of the DDDA and Anglo is the ability of the former to grant planning permission to proposed developments in its area of influence, without the normal checks and balances of the mainstream planning system. And guess what?  If you were a developer with a project which needed planning approval from the DDDA, and you had carelessly obtained finance from a bank or banks other than Anglo-Irish,  you might find yourself confronting various delays and obstacles in obtaining said permission.  Or you might find that inspections of your development for compliance with the planning permission were surprisingly scrupulous.

Yes, truly the poisonous tentacles (or testicles, per Bertie Ahern) of Anglo-Irish Bank extended almost everywhere in Irish corporate life.  We can look forward to years of additional revelations as the scandalous goings-on are gradually revealed.  The inevitable collapse of the current government will lead to an even greater flow of such revelations, as key files are opened to scrutiny by Fine Gael and Labour, and those with stories to tell lose their fear of retribution for breaking omertà.

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