BusinessAny Other Business

What will Dublin Airport operator do with all the houses it is buying?

Any Other Business: Also, media regulator’s funding, Declan Kelly’s new recruits, John McGuckian’s long service on board of ICG, and changes at the top of Tennis Ireland

One of the conditions attached to the planning permission for the north runway at Dublin Airport was that the DAA offer to buy properties badly affected by aircraft noise. The operator is currently offering a 30 per cent premium on market values. While there were just five houses in the original “noise zone”, DAA has voluntarily extended it to cover a further 33 residences.

“There has been a high level of interest in the scheme with several purchases already completed and others in process,” the DAA told me. From further inquiries, I discovered the state company has bought, or is buying, seven properties while offers made to four other residents have expired. The DAA won’t say how much it has spent, nor what it plans to do with the houses it’s buying, “as it could impact on negotiations currently live”.

Is renting them out at a reduced rate an option?

“Historically, properties that the DAA have purchased have been boarded up and left to go to ruin,” says Swords councillor Ann Graves. “These were fit-for-purpose homes, in many cases already insulated, and in the middle of the biggest housing emergency the state has ever experienced it would be shocking if this was allowed to happen to current or future house purchases.


“While the DAA may not want to get into the business of being landlords, one of the approved housing bodies, or Fingal County Council, could work with them in providing much needed homes.”

High speed issues for Eir’s chief

Oliver Loomes, the chief executive of Eir, avoided a conviction for dangerous driving at Dundalk District Court last October, we’ve noticed. A judge heard that Loomes was driving a Porsche Panamera at 180km per hour at Drumleck on the M1, where a 120kph speed limit applies. A garda who saw the Porsche overtake another vehicle said he considered it to be dangerous driving, but Judge Eirinn McKiernan agreed to reduce the charge to careless driving, according to a report in the Dundalk Democrat. After hearing he had no previous convictions, the judge convicted Loomes of the lesser charge and fined him €200.

“I hope he’s learned his lesson,” the judge observed. “That’s too high a speed.” For those who still think imperial, 180kph is 111 miles per hour. It certainly gives a whole new meaning to high-speed broadband provider.

Declan Kelly’s high-profile recruits to Consello

Declan Kelly may have been caught napping at the Superbowl in 2020, but the Tipperary businessman has been wide-awake when it comes to securing high-profile recruits for his financial-services advisory firm Consello. The latest to join is Alonso Aznar, youngest son of José María Aznar, a former prime minister of Spain. He won’t need to be told that consello is the Galician word for advice.

Kelly set up the company in New York in 2021 after he was forced to resign from Teneo, the public relations and advisory firm he cofounded. Among those he has recruited are Oscar Salazar, the founding chief technology officer at Uber, and Mindy Grossman, a former global vice-president at Nike. Listed as a “partner” on Consello’s website is Tom Brady, one of the most decorated American footballers of all time, and who made 10 Superbowl appearances. And no, 2020 wasn’t one of them.

Patrick Donohoe ‘excited’ about return to Lakeland Dairies

There have been three different ministers for agriculture in this Government so far, and now there’s a change of special advisers. Patrick Donohoe took leave of absence from his role as head of corporate affairs at Lakeland Dairies in November 2020 to become a Spad, as they are known, to Charlie McConalogue. But Donohoe is ending his sabbatical on June 1st, and returning to Lakeland, a cross-Border farmer-owned co-op that installed a new CEO, Colin Kelly, last January.

Pronouncing himself “excited” about going back to Lakeland, Donohoe told me: “As a beef farmer myself, I know it is a time of huge challenge but also opportunity. It’s a progressive €2 billion business that plays a huge role in supporting farm families and rural economies in 17 counties across the island.”

The special adviser position is being taken up by Amii McKeever, currently editor of the Irish Country Living magazine at the Irish Farmers’ Journal.

McGuckian has wind in his sails as longest-serving Ned

The announcement by Robin Barr that he was leaving the board of AG Barr, the makers of Irn-Bru, after 58 years’ service got us wondering who Ireland’s longest serving non-exec director (Ned) of a listed company might be.

Naturally, we checked in with Clontarf-based John Teeling, the 77-year-old investor, who cheerfully admitted he’s been a director “since I was legally able, at the age of 18″. But what about continuous service on one board? “Pan Andean is probably the longest one,” he said. “I was on it from when the company was formed in 1988 and through all the iterations, becoming Clontarf Energy in 2005. I only stepped down in the summer of last year.” An impressive 35 years’ service. “I’ve been on the board of Petrel Resources since 1995, but won’t be there much longer,” Teeling added. A mere 28 years.

Both these positions were executive directorships, however, since Teeling said he “made a conscious decision never to be a Ned”. This means the record is probably held by John B McGuckian, 83, who has been chairman of ICG, owner of Irish Ferries, since 2004 and a non-exec director there since 1988. Some 35 years.

McGuckian, who declined to comment, is only shuffling after Lord David Alliance, who turns 91 this year and has been on the board of N Brown, the Manchester-based clothing retailer, since 1968. That’s 55 years not out.

Media regulator ponders how to levy online broadcasters

Coimisiún na Meán, which has taken over regulation of media from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, is giving some thought to how it will fund itself. Chaired by Jeremy Godfrey, the commission has tendered for a consultant to examine what sort of levy should be paid by the online and on-demand service providers it will regulate.

The BAI raised about €5.5 million a year from the media sector, with levies calculated on the basis of the agency’s operating costs and the income of the broadcasters it regulated. Local radio stations often grumbled about this, and got a six-month waiver during Covid, saving them €1 million.

The new regulator will be many times bigger than the BAI. It currently has 40 staff, and an initial recruitment drive will add 120 more. This year its running costs are being met by the usual levy on broadcasters, plus a €10.5 million subvention from government. Which indicates how much slack will eventually be picked up by the streamers.

Tennis Ireland set to serve up a new board

It’s all change at Tennis Ireland, where Kevin Quinn recently took over as chief executive after moving from Leinster Rugby, where he was head of commercial and marketing for five years. Quinn joined after the national governing body for tennis had almost reached break point, with three directors, including the president, being suspended in 2021.

Last October, the sports body asked for expressions of interest from anyone interested in joining the board, but there was no return of serve to those who expressed an interest until this month. Quinn agrees the delay was “unfortunate”, but says that “in mitigation” over the past six months there have been changes at executive level “and also discussions at board level about the ideal balance and skill requirements of members. These discussions were held in the light of both my appointment and some resignations of board members. The result will become clear in the coming weeks when the make-up of the new board should be finalised.”

The new CEO has also begun drafting a five-year strategy for Tennis Ireland.