herald

Monday 5 December 2016

DCC chief Keegan increased Poolbeg chair's rate by over €3K

Dublin City Council’s Chief Executive Owen Keegan added an increase of over €3,000 for
Peter McLoone, chair of a community fund for south city docklands (Caroline Quinn)
Dublin City Council’s Chief Executive Owen Keegan added an increase of over €3,000 for Peter McLoone, chair of a community fund for south city docklands (Caroline Quinn)

Dublin City's chief executive added an extra €3,000 to the proposed annual allowance of the chair of a controversial community fund.

Peter McLoone was appointed chairman of the Poolbeg Community Gain Fund in May 2015, on an annual allowance of €15,000.

However, email correspondence seen by the Herald shows Mr McLoone offered to do the job for at least €3,000 less.

The fund was one of the planning conditions attached to the controversial waste incinerator, which is currently under construction in the Docklands.

On March 18, Mr McLoone wrote to two Dublin City Council (DCC) officials proposing an annual rate in line with "approved current fees payable" for people heading non-commercial public service bodies.

"The annual allowance I am putting forward is around the level of Category 3 which is €11,790 per year," he wrote.

His email was sent to chief executive Owen Keegan with a note from DCC official Declan Wallace in which described the rate as "very reasonable".

"I propose drafting a letter of appointment from you at that rate. Are you OK with that?" Mr Wallace's note read.

Mr Keegan, in his response, agreed that the fee was "very reasonable".

"I had thought we might pay €15,000," he wrote.

"He [Mr McLoone] seems very keen not to draw attention to himself and is anxious that the whole process is non contentious," Mr Wallace replied.

The chief executive said they would discuss the allowance on May 19.

On May 20, Mr Keegan wrote to Mr McLoone and offered him an annual allowance of €15,000 which he said is "within the departmental guidelines".

The fee comes from the community fund and is not covered by Dublin City Council (DCC).

Over €10m will initially be available from the fund to the community with a further €600k allocated every year during the operation of the incinerator, which will have the capacity to burn 600,000 tonnes of waste a year.

The funding is to be used on local projects such as playgrounds, clubs and services for the elderly.

Mr McLoone is considered qualified for the job by DCC, due to his experience on various boards, committees and agencies, according to his letter of appointment. He is the former head of the Impact trade union.

He was also the chairman of the board of directors of Fas in 2009 when the board stepped down following an overspending scandal.

Responsibility

A spokeswoman for DCC said that, "due to the size of the fund to be administered by the Chair, the varied and wide experience of Mr McLoone, the potential level of public interest in the administration of the fund and the committee, and the level of responsibility associated with the role, it was felt that a more appropriate level of remuneration for the Chair would be in the order of €15,000 per annum, midway between Category 2 and 3".

Mr McLoone could not be reached for comment last night.

Local councillor Mannix Flynn declared the move as "grandiose".

"It's not only grandiose but in a time when we still have the legacy of severe austerity it's nuts.

"I think it's ethically wrong to do something like that, what you've got here is cronyism and favouritism ... it's a top-up," he said.

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