March 29, 2009

DDDA Governance - Another Fine Mess?

Governance is a job for the Polizei, not for insiders.

As the son of a bricklayer Michael Schumacher may be a candidate for DDDA Chairmanship. Michael is an expert on the governance of German Autobahns but this does not necessarily stop him exceeding the few existing speed limits around Nürnberg. And a po-faced resignation from Formula One has not prevented further speeding.

RTE, the government broadcaster reported that Mr John Gormley appointed a new chairman for the DDDA, for the second time this month (March 2009). RTE headlined the newest chairman as a "Governance expert". RTE headlined the prior newest chairman as a "Green Entrepreneur" during a TV slot on the very night of his closed-door appointment.

RTE did not provide any background detail on the governance expert - RTE had just been censured by the Taoiseach (technically by his PR man; his wife - technically - censured The Tribune) following a police raid on a radio station to search a satirist's private email.

"Aithníonn ciaróg ciaróg eile"
All members of the galway tent blog believe the latest DDDA chairman has a very fine reputation, so it is very surprising to see the professor directly involving herself inside an organisation with a very curious association with Anglo-Irish Bank - especially one she commented on in a promisingly worded article. A more appropriate role would be for the Professor to act as the critically needed corporate governance enforcer for the FF-Green Party and to Mr John Gormley whilst maintaining a firewall between herself and governance-disgraced banks, and their curious relationships to the Developer's Autocracy (DDDA).

Is it not better for the police and the poachers to live in different villages?

Resigning from a directorship does not remove the business and personal relationships built up over time. A five year 'cooling-off period' is more credible and more in line with appropriate corporate governance principles. Professors of management know the classic example here is Dick Cheney - Dick resigned from Halliburton on being appointed to the governmental bureau of Exxon - The White House. John Gormley's party condemned an EPA-Ireland appointee for similar reasons - incinerator industry insiders appointed to EPA - but has done nothing about the conflict. It is not known if John Gormley has acquired another house well away from Ringsend and the Gormley Incinerator.

Professional professors of true corporate governance robustly ensure there are no grounds whatsoever for issues or concerns about conflicts of interest - business, finance, political, personal, environmental, planning - however innocent. Academic Professors of true corporate governance know this too. Especially in view of the Anglo Irish Bank debacle it is even more important that no perception of conflicts of interest can exist, otherwise The Reputation of Ireland Inc comes again under the spotlight.

In a notable contrast to international best governance practice John Gormley did not conduct an open competition for the DDDA chairman's job, so presumably he at least did minimum due diligence. John Gormley has not revealed the following, but is has been reported by The Sunday Tribune and The Irish Independent:

Allegedly the DDDA's new chairman:
  • Is a director of the Ulster Bank which finances private risk-taking property developers within DDDA's autocratic-planning-permission territory. Ulster Bank's parent just declared the largest loss in British history, in excess of £20 Billion. Ulster Bank has provided funding for Fabrizia Developments -- the company behind the Gasworks apartments in Ringsend and a site near the foreshore of Sandymount Strand at Poolbeg under control of the DDDA. A potential resignation does not remove the conflicts of interest.
  • Owns a holding company which in turn owns a share in a risk-taking property company hoping to profit from the U2 tower inside the DDDA no-appeal planning territory in Ringsend. Anglo Irish Bank is one of the bankers for the property company (according to Anglo's credible stock market disclosures?). The Professor did not return calls to the newspaper.
  • Is the wife of the former leader of the PD party, promotors of Poolbeg property development. The PD party strongly supports the PD's steamy dream of a Manhattan in Poolbeg - within DDDA's autocratic planning empire. This leader failed to gain enough votes in Ringsend-Irishtown-Sandymount and lost his Dail seat. The latest fired/resigned former DDDA chairman was apparently also a failed PD politician. The boyo before that had a day job at Anglo and a night job at DDDA, and vice versa for his buddy.
Last month, a Dail committee raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest in the DDDA. In Dáil Éireann on Friday (March 27) the FF-Green government stated words to the effect that the DDDA governs itself and is doing a mighty fine job. Another Fine Mess?

Please email any corrections or concerns to using an anonymiser.

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