Tough year for man once lionised as a ‘wizard’
It has been a tough year for Bernard McNamara – much of it in the public eye. Indeed, he ended up taking all the flak over the collapse of public-private partnership (PPP) schemes to regenerate five run-down social housing estates in Dublin, even though another developer – Castlethorn’s Joe O’Reilly – was also involved. O’Reilly (Dundrum shopping centre, Swords Pavilions, big plans for O’Connell Street in Dublin) kept well under the radar, as he always does. But McNamara put himself in the spotlight and must have found the negative feedback quite traumatic – especially for a man more accustomed to being lionised as a “financial wizard”. The PPPs, worth more than €900 million in total, fell apart last May amid a welter of recriminations. McNamara cited “adversely changed circumstances” in the housing market, new guidelines requiring developers to build larger apartments and energy regulations. But there was a lot of anger in the communities being left in the lurch. To stave off legal action by Dublin City Council, which strongly denied any suggestion that it had “moved the goalposts”, McNamara agreed last September to pay the council €1.5 million in compensation – small beer, given the scale of the PPPs – as well as handing over all drawings and plans for the five regeneration projects.