It is over a year since Bernard McNamara’s Donatex Limited initiated legal action against the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) over aspects of the purchase and development of the Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend in Dublin but it seems that at last the case is edging towards a hearing.
Yesterday, according to the Irish Times, the Commercial Court set out further directions for dealing with the application which is ultimately seeking to invalidate the joint venture agreement between Donatex and the DDDA in November 2006 and ultimately to extricate Donatex from past and additional financial commitments in respect of the site which cost €412m when it was purchased by a consortium of Donatex, the DDDA and a Derek Quinlan vehicle, Mempal Limited. We get some flavour of the hubris in the DDDA in 2006 with staff there allegedly seeing the €412m purchase of the controversial site as expanding the influence of the DDDA and enhancing/securing their own personal positions and careers.
There are many observers that feel there is a can of worms to be opened and examined in respect of the DDDA’s involvement in the site and indeed the decisions made by the former freeholder, the Dublin Port Company and the former leaseholder South Wharf PLC. Bernard has already suffered from his involvement with the site, having obtained €62.5m of mezzanine finance for the purchase of the site which he now allegedly owes the investors. The DDDA makes reference to the present legal case in its last annual report but concludes it will overcome – “one of the Authority’s joint venture partners in Becbay Limited (Bernard McNamara/Donatex Limited) which owns the Irish Glass Bottle site, has initiated legal proceedings against the Authority. The Authority believes it will successfully defend this case.” It seems that it will be 2011 before the case gets a full hearing.
UPDATE: 1st December, 2010. Donal Buckley in today’s Independent has a mischievous piece in which he considers the finances of RTE decamping from its prestigious address off the Ailesbury Road and move a couple of kms north to the vacant “waterfront” (do you mean “former landfill dump” Donal?) Irish Glass Bottle site. According to Donal RTE’s 31-acre campus in Donnybrook might fetch €3-5m/acre today and RTE could buy the IGB site for €50m (the December 2008 and 2009 valuation of the site by the DDDA) and use the €100m “profit” to offset the estimated €350m cost of upgrading RTE’s facilities. Of course there are many sites throughout the State that might be able to accommodate a 21st century RTE campus – how about Cork, Galway or Limerick (isn’t Dell’s former site available). If the BBC in the UK can relocate much of its operations from London to Manchester, might our own be able to do the same? A mischievous piece to be sure.