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 Post subject: Re: State paid €1.8m for three-acre site in 2009
PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:22 pm 
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You may or may not admire Tom, but he is as straight as they come. Let's have a serious debate about lobby groups, political funding, civil appointments and the role of brokerage. But as we do, remember the less obvious spheres of influence. These lads are around a lot longer than Tom and you won't be seeing them jumping out of a haystack anytime soon.

source


So who was the broker/fixer in the case of Thornton hall?


Quote:
As a little sweetener to this story, some time back in 2005 McDowell ordered the purchase of a premises next door to Mountjoy, Egan's Cash and Carry, for something in the region of €28 million.
Apparently McDowell's vaunted expertise extended to property valuation, and he thought this would be a great idea for it would add to the value of the Mountjoy site, which was to be sold off. The value of the site now of course is close to zero.

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 Post subject: Re: State paid €1.8m for three-acre site in 2009
PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 3:18 pm 
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Abbotstown is a green field with a new internal road system paid for by Leo Varadkar when he was sports minister....just saying. :D

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 Post subject: Re: State paid €1.8m for three-acre site in 2009
PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 7:12 pm 
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dipole wrote:
http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/euro900k-county-cork-site-purchase-absolute-scandal-315019.html

OPW just don't appear to have the skills required to negotiate property purchases.


Or lightbulbs for that matter.

Quote:
A contractor was paid more than €1,000 to replace three lightbulbs at a garda station, it was claimed today.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) blamed the Office of Public Works for what it branded blundering incompetence.



http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/cont ... 08662.html

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 Post subject: Re: State paid €1.8m for three-acre site in 2009
PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2015 10:42 pm 
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I have been on the periphery of a few land deals in my time in the civil service so maybe I can make some general points.

Typically big land deals in the service are decided on by the minister and/or upper management but delivery is the responsibility of an assistant principal (AP) reporting to a principal officer (PO). The vast majority of APs that I have encountered are very competent at their regular job ie pushing paper. What is problematic is that their experiences tend to be very narrow and necessarily bureaucratic. Generally, an AP would not have any experience of business, commercial dealings or negotiation. It would not be so bad if departments provided support or had rules as guidance but beyond "get 3 quotes" the whole purchase is left to the individual officer.

The cases that I know of directly, the APs worked hard and spent a lot of time on the deals. They honestly were trying their best but delays crept in with the solicitors and negotiations with builders over office fit-outs and maintenance contracts. I have no doubt that a commercial entity would have done the deals quicker and cheaper but not by a huge amount. The deals went through fine and everyone was happy. You will never read about the good cases in the Indo.

It is also worth remembering that what made sense once is folly now. Take Thornton Hall. The idea was to take a green field and build a new modern prison instead of the expense of modernising Mountjoy. Once Thornton Hall was completed, it would take in Mountjoy's prison population allowing the Mountjoy site in the centre of the city to be sold for development. The whole deal was expected to make money, increase prison places, reduce prison costs and improve prisoner conditions. Then 2007 happened.

A final point, I know Bearishbull's comment about kickbacks was made in 2011 but I think that is worth addressing. Civil servants are many things but as a rule dishonest would not one of them. I know of only one case of a civil servant taking a bribe and it was not in a land deal.

I do not want to have this comment erased for legal reasons so this next comment will be vague. If there is bribery it would be at the level of the political appointees to state boards. In the main, state boards contract out for services rather than make land purchases.


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 Post subject: Re: State paid €1.8m for three-acre site in 2009
PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 3:56 am 
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I would consider state boards to be vastly more corrupt than the line civil service and Irish Water is a fine example of that with their outrageous spend on consultants since their formation. No party appointments seem to be any better than the rest when it comes to cronyism and corrupt practices once parachuted onto a state board.

In terms of land purchases for decentralisation the worst one I can remember was in Country Toms constituency down in Birr. As this project involved the utterly rotten FáS as well as property experts associates of Country Tom and local FF/FG gene pool 'developers' I am not in the least surprised. :(

The local FG TD , Ms Enright, kept forcing the issue as well...asking how many FáS functionaries were down in Birr on a regular basis.

I'd be at a loss to figure which of these players was worst in hindsight. :(

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 Post subject: Re: State paid €1.8m for three-acre site in 2009
PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:31 am 
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What SecretCivilServant says is spot on. None of these are examples of ADMINISTRATIVE incompetence, they are examples of POLITICAL incompetence.

They mainly stem from the 2003 announcement to decentralise x civil servants to y specific places in a short space of time. This was dreamt up by politicians in its entirety . It left local landowners with the state over a barrel. Political pressure was massive to deliver x bums by a certain date in a certain place. A lot of the costs stem from the delays which are ironically a product of the MUCH HIGHER levels of probity and due diligence expected when the state is involved. Can an Apple shareholder expect a detailed report on how a chunk of land for a data centre was purchased outside Athenry? I think not.

Anyway, decentralisation was abandoned while about 1/3 complete due to cost implications. Nowadays a lot of decentralised civil servants with any policy function at all spend a lot of time travelling to and from Dublin for meetings. Many of them even have desks and PCs in two places.


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 Post subject: Re: State paid €1.8m for three-acre site in 2009
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:12 am 
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This sort of thing is endemic on the smaller scale too. A work colleague is married to a county councillor and she went looking for solutions to the leaky portacabins in the local school. What she found was that the portacabins had been rented for over 10 years for an eye watering annual fee when two years outlay would actually buy brand new and far better equipped portacabins.

When she dug further, she discovered no tender process for the original cabins and that it was a local party fixer type who was collecting free money every year for doing nothing.

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 Post subject: Re: State paid €1.8m for three-acre site in 2009
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:16 pm 
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Confirmation that FG are indeed no longer the party of 'law and order'

Thornton Hall prison site that cost State €51m offered for housing
Jail housing 2,200 envisaged in 2005 now regarded as ‘counterproductive’
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-a ... -1.3756763
Quote:
When this was put to the department, a spokesman said the large prison originally envisaged in 2005 by the then government was now regarded, in modern penal policy terms, as “counterproductive”.
Plans to build a jail that would house up to 2,200 prisoners were devised 15 years ago under then minister for justice Michael McDowell.
The purchase price, at €32 million or €200,000 per acre, was far in excess of the value of land at the time. And the site was worth just €2.4 million when valued in 2015.
Since the site was acquired almost €20 million has been spent on consultancy and legal fees along with works, before they stopped two years ago.


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