March 13, 2010

Heads must roll over DDDA greed (Irish Independent)

Does the Dublin Docklands Developers Autocracy forecast how NAMA will operate?

 Banama Republic of Poolbeg
Mr McDowell Selling The Docklands (Left Hand). 
Mrs McDowell Governancing The Docklands (Right Hand)


Heads must roll over greed
SHOCKING, but not exactly surprising, is the first reaction to the news of the extraordinary extravagance of the former board of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA).

It has been clear for some time, especially since the revelations abut the state-training agency FAS, that something has been deeply rotten at the heart of some state bodies -- perhaps of many.

Even so, the wanton waste of public money unveiled by the Irish Independent still almost beggars belief. It is the details which will jar with the public -- the Bollinger champagne; the caviar. Anger may become rage at the news of the very different treatment for community representatives on a study tour with the DDDA.

Money corrupts, and it is clear that the gigantic sums of money created by the credit bubble were deeply corrupting. It is a word with several meanings -- not just the taking of money for personal gain.
Indeed, among all the allegations which have surfaced since the crash, almost none have involved theft. Despite all the comparisons, there has been no Bernie Madoff, the Wall Street fraudster. What there has been is in many ways more difficult to deal with.

Politicians and many public servants were blinded by the boom into abandoning their duty to protect the taxpayer and the economy, whether in their policies, the running of their departments and agencies, or in conducting their own lifestyles in the way a public servant should.

It is difficult now to remember that the docklands re-development was to be carried out in a way which would serve the interests of the community, with the DDDA at its heart.
Instead, we got greed and folly, with the DDDA apparently under the direct influence of Anglo Irish Bank executives.

The damage is not just financial: it is also that no-one now believes the Government can be trusted to do what it says it will; or that its agencies are what they claim to be.
Even worse is the loss of faith in those who guard the guardians.
The failures of the Central Bank and Financial Regulator, and the growing questions over the Comptroller & Auditor General, mean the public feels it has nowhere to turn for protection.

A bright light must be shone into all these dark corners, if the country is to have any chance of developing the solidarity needed to get it through this enormous crisis.

Whatever heads must roll, however eminent, should do so. It is time for the few good men who have so far said nothing to speak out.


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