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Dublin County Board and Nama - Qué!!

I noted an article in the Business Post that Nama have sold a 10 acre site in South County Dublin to Stillorgan Rugby Club for €30k per acre, very nice, good for them. Interesting that the same Nama could not find it in their gift to sell the Spawell site to Dublin County Board recently for region €200k per acre. Questions should be asked, maybe their is a reasonable explanation but is is not obvious from here. Read John Costelloe's comments in his Annual Report. John also made other comments of frustration re Nama and other GAA Clubs. Is it good enough that the we meekly accept that a Goverment appointed agent can treat us in this manner?

John Costello's piece from his Annual Report


The Strategy for Dublin GAA 2011-2017 contained an objective to develop a new stadium which would bridge the gap between the capacity of Croke Park and Parnell Park. The Committee had identified the need for a 25,000 spectator stadium. The 35 acre Spawell site in south Dublin, located just off the Tallaght junction on the M50, was identified as far back as 2010 as a potential site for this facility. As a consequence of the financial crisis, the loans associated with this site came under the control of NAMA and it became obvious that the site would be sold to recover these loans. The Strategic Plan Implementation Committee had been tracking this site and had engaged with NAMA and their appointed receivers. The Committee carried out an outline feasibility study of the site which confirmed its suitability for the 25,000 spectator stadium, together with 4 additional full size pitches and other support facilities.
While the statutory planning process was always going to present a challenge, this site appeared to score particularly well with regard to the critical large venue issue of transportation, given its proximity to the M50. Furthermore, it was concluded that the site could double up as an alternative Centre of Excellence as well as an overflow cluster facility for neighbouring clubs. From a development perspective, the lands could be conveniently developed on a phased basis as funds became available, with the stadium as the last piece of the jigsaw.
KPMG carried out financial modelling and the Committee engaged with Croke Park with regard to funding assistance. The Committee also engaged with NAMA in an effort to acquire the site by negotiation. In the event, NAMA decided on sale by public tender and Savills were appointed as agents. Given the key strategic importance of the site, Croke Park supported the Board in making a strong bid. In particular, a case was made for favourable consideration under the Community Development remit within NAMA’s terms of reference.
In June, it became clear that our bid was unsuccessful and we had come second to a speculative investment fund which had submitted a slightly higher bid. The Committee was bitterly disappointed with the outcome, particularly because no credit was given to the community aspect of our offer. I publically expressed our frustration at the waste of so much voluntary effort over the years and the national media picked up on the theme.
NAMA’s response was that they were not the seller, rather it was a (NAMA-appointed) receiver who was obliged to accept the highest price. This piece of subterfuge allowed NAMA to slip the noose and ignore a central piece of their mandate which is to ‘contribute to the social and economic development of the State’ as required under Clause 2 (viii) of the NAMA Act, 2009. Indeed, shortly after the establishment of NAMA, I expressed the view in my 2009 Secretary’s Report that the inclusion of the Community Development provision within its terms of reference represented a huge opportunity for the Association to acquire much needed playing facilities.
I am aware that many clubs have engaged with NAMA to no avail. In fact, I am not aware of any of our clubs benefiting from this provision to date. By pushing for maximum commercial returns alone, NAMA appears to be working against the interests of our members, the very ones who have already paid dearly for the write-downs on development loans transferred to it. It is well beyond time that NAMA is required to put a line entitled ‘Social Capital’ on its balance sheet and to be held to account in this regard.

Dublin County Board - Annual Report 2015

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