TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore asked a series of official planning questions when he was a county councillor about a site he later bought and on which he built his family home, the Irish Independent has learned.
This was despite previous planning rulings, which found that the site at Corbawn Close in Shankill, Co Dublin, was "unsuitable" for a house.
Mr Gilmore also initiated legal proceedings against one neighbour who objected to his application.
The replies to his planning queries suggested that an application for a two-storey house might at that point be looked upon favourably.
He and his wife Carol Hanney subsequently applied for -- and were granted -- permission for a two-storey house, where they still live.
A number of years earlier, an application for a two-storey house had been refused on the basis that the site was unsuitable for the building of any house.
Mr Gilmore said the questions were publicly available and insisted that his application had been made in the normal way.
The 1994 planning application, lodged when he was months away from becoming a junior minister, was granted by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and approved by An Bord Pleanala.
Mr Gilmore was a Dun Laoghaire councillor for the Workers' Party on the now-defunct Dublin County Council in the late 1980s and asked a series of questions about the Shankill site between then and the early 1990s.
The application says Mr Gilmore entered into a contract to buy the site and the sale was finalised in 1995.
Mr Gilmore was elected to the council in 1985. At the time, he was living in a smaller house in the Corbawn Close estate.
At a meeting of a housing and planning district sub-committee in April 1987, he asked "what consideration has been given . . . to the various options regarding the site".
He was told:
?That it was possible an application for "a two-storey dwelling might not give rise to the same volume of objection as the proposal for the bungalow".
?That the site was "not considered suitable for use as public open space".
?That it "has been examined by the derelict sites section but it is not considered to be derelict".
At a meeting of the district sub-committee in July 1987, Mr Gilmore asked "what arrangements, if any, were made with the developer . . . and what consideration was given to the future of that site?"
He was told by the council that the "dimensions of the site . . . suggest that a two-storey dwelling could be accommodated".
Mr Gilmore insists the replies to "these questions have always been public information and are available in the published minutes".
He added: "The abandoned condition of the site had been a matter of concern in the neighbourhood for some years and because of this I was asked by neighbours to raise questions about it."
Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent