Dublin City Council has chosen somebody to oversee the millions of euro in a community gain fund for those living in the vicinity of the Poolbeg incinerator. Drum roll. It’s Peter McLoone.
McLoone is a man who has worn a few hats. He’s the former general secretary of IMPACT and the former president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. He was also chairperson of FAS about six years ago, when a series of allegations about excessive spending led to the resignation of the entire board.
Just to recap: the community gain fund was set up as a condition of the planning permission for the giant waste-to-energy project currently being built on the south-east coast of Dublin through a partnership between Dublin City Council and American firm Covanta.
The amount that is supposed to go into the fund has been the subject of disagreement, but the figure has been set for now at €10.38 million. The money is likely to be spent in the area affected by the project, on goodies like sports facilities, playgrounds, and community services for elderly people.
Last Wednesday, City Engineer Michael Phillips told Dublin City Council’s environment committee that the chief executive had appointed Peter McLoone as the independent chair of the Community Gain Liaison Committee. “He has considerable experience on various boards, committees, and in a variety of organisations,” Phillips said.
McLoone will receive an allowance of €15,000 a year, Phillips said, “which will be within the government department’s guidelines and which will be funded from the community gain fund”.
That irked some councillors and observers. They weren’t happy about the price tag for the post.
That’s three percent of the fund that’ll be handed out each year, said Sandymount resident Joe McCarthy, who sits on the environment committee. “It’s a very interesting disposition of public money just to get the chair to do it. That’s a lot of money.”
“That’s a phenomenal amount of money,” said Sinn Fein Councillor Ciaran O’Moore. “I don’t think it’s acceptable.” Later, he said he thought the chairperson should be paid per meeting, rather than a set annual fee.
The chairman’s allowance is set in line with recommendations by the Department of the Environment, said the manager.
McLoone couldn’t be reached for comment on the position and pay. Dublin City Council’s press office didn’t reply to a query about how many hours the chairperson of the fund would be expected to work.
During the meeting last Wednesday, McCarthy said he had also been expecting a report from Dublin City Council on how the amount that will be put into the fund had been calculated. (He has been raising questions about what he sees, potentially, as a missing €5 million.)
So far, though, the report has not arrived. Phillips promised it would be done in a few weeks.