60 July-August 2023 July-August 2023 61
McLaughlin remains a continuing consulting
favourite for funding by the Arts Council of
which he was once a senior employee
T
emple Bar Properties converted
Temple Bar into a high-rent drink-
driven cultural centre in the 1990s.
Its focus then moved from physical
regeneration to consolidating the
cultural oering it was housing and, in 2006, it
became Temple Bar Cultural Trust (TBCT), with
a new board appointed by Dublin City Council.
It was a private and limited not-for-profit
company engaged in cultural development in
Temple Bar, organising Temple Bar Food
Market,concerts,circus, street, Culture Night
and Handel’s Day. In 2005 it had an income of
€2m, with €1.6m of this coming from its
50-strong property portfolio estimated to be
worth at least €100m. Its CEO was Dermot
McLaughlin, a 17-year Arts Council employee
who had risen to become its assistant director.
He was also a talented fiddler.
Governance of TBCT was dysfunctional and in
2011 a review by Latitude, a consultancy,
recommended it be wound up and subsumed
into the Council.
Independent City Councillor Mannix Flynn, a
board member of TBCT, tabled a successful
motion to that eect. The then city manager
John Tierney agreed to commission a review of
the organisation focusing on corporate
governance standards, board representation
and whether the trust was fulfilling its brief as a
cultural promoter and enabler.
However, a Council audit report published in
March 2013 levelled charges of a dierent level
of seriousness against TBCT, including failures
of corporate governance and “control
weaknesses and/or regulatory violations [that]
represent unacceptable exposure and risk” for
the company.
The report found that the trust’s board
minutes and papers were “not available” in
relation to certain financial transactions, noting
that TBCTs business plan for 2010 and 2011
had not been approved by its board.
From the
Temple of
Bars to
Listowel
Writers
Week
Dermot McLaughlin mismanaged Temple Bar and, facilitated by the
uncontrolled Arts Council which never took responsibility for failures in
Temple Bar, is now arrogantly calling out mismanagement in Listowel
By Michael Smith
There were found to be no appropriate
financial procedures and the fact the same
external auditors had been acting for over 10
years was deemed “in contravention of good
corporate governance”. The party at most risk
from these failures was the publicly-funded Arts
Council which funds most of the cultural activity
in Temple Bar, not exactly an oasis of private
culture, to the tune of €9m in 2022. The Arts
Council notably failed to investigate whether
certain sums paid by it to institutions in Temple
Bar were forwarded as intended to TBCT.
A TBCT-commissioned review of the audit by
former IBEC chief Turlough O’Sullivan found that
the McLaughlin-fed board had “failed in its duty
of oversight and governance by not enquiring
into and satisfying itself that proper procedures
were in place around financial transactions”.
O’Sullivan was no subversive so it was telling
that even he found this level of delinquency.
Lively utumn gles cn turn to  sudden winter shower
nd you could do with n expensive umbrell
CULTURE