A MAJOR investigative documentary as part of the Prime Time Investigates series has lifted the lid on the complex nature surrounding planning and rezoning practices in North Wexford, leaving local politician Lorcan Allen, open to much criticism.
The RTÉ programme focused on Gorey and Courtown as part of a nationwide in-depth analysis of the impact of major planning and rezoning decisions made by local Councillors.
Cllr. Allen participated in the programme while former Cllr. D’Arcy did not, although his son Michael D’Arcy TD was interviewed.
Cllr. Malcolm Byrne also participated stating that he does not believe past planning decisions were made for the benefit of the wider public.
Decisions made at a time when Fianna Fáil’s Lorcan Allen and Fine Gael’s Michael D’Arcy Snr. were sitting members, were called into question during the course of the programme including the rezoning at Ardamine and Gorey.
According to Cllr. Byrne, many proposals were put forward and seconded by Allen and D’Arcy regarding extensive rezoning and planning and this is the reason behind many of the problems North Wexford faces today including lack of facilities for young people, water shortages, poor roads as well as severe traffic congestion.
The fact that Cllr. Allen also works as an auctioneer was greatly highlighted as well as the fact that there are alleged gaps in his Declaration of Interest form which is routinely filled out by every councillor in the country to avoid a conflict of interests where planning is concerned.
According to the documentary Cllr. Allen failed to declare his work premises as well as a property at Gorey Bridge as well as up to €70,000 in fees payable for auctioneering services carried out for Wexford County Council in 2005 and 2006.
Cllr. Allen refutes these claims stating that he named the auctioneering property under its business name Allen and Kenny and that he sought advice from the County Secretary before filling out the declaration.
“I asked for advice about what I should show. The fees are visible in my own accounts for all to see. They were for work carried out through Allen and Kenny, the business, not by Lorcan Allen.”
Cllr. Allen told the Gorey Echo that the forms filmed by RTE for use within the programme were indeed official records.
He stated in the documentary that he had accounted for all his properties but certain sections were, in fact, left blank. Cllr. Allen added that he felt the documentary had misrepresented him with regard to a major part of the debate.
“I did an interview for three quarters of an hour and what I said was construed wrongly. When I was talking about rezoning, I referred to Courtown when I said it was overzoned. I did not say that about Gorey. I do not think mistakes were made in Gorey and I stand over that. I could not participate in that debate either. I had to leave the meeting. As I said I can stand up on any crossroads with a clear conscience. I was not a beneficiary of the Gorey rezoning decision. I was agent for the sale and received my fee for services rendered.”
In recent months at local Town Council level it was admitted for the first timeby Cllr. D’Arcy that he believed mistakes were made in past rezoning decisions.
It remains to be seen if further investigations will be made to clarify the allegations made by Prime Time but according to Cllr. Allen he has nothing to worry about.
“I have a clear conscience. No-one can point the finger at me anyway.”