Sunday 23 March 2008

Planning probe deepens as gardai quiz politicians

GARDAI stepped up their three-year investigation into planning irregularities yesterday, by questioning a number of politicians.

Waterford gardai questioned a number of officials in the Dungarvan area as part of their ongoing investigation into alleged planning irregularities.

The questioning was confirmed last night by the gardai but no arrests were involved.


A senior source indicated that all the individuals involved co-operated fully with the garda inquiry.

The politicians are understood to include members of both the county council and town council.

Several politicians were questioned without prior notice by the gardai. Detectives will now liaise over the detailed interviews which were all conducted over the past eight days.

The Irish Independent understands that the move was focussed on issues surrounding rezoning of specific plots in the greater Dungarvan area.

The rezoning issues being examined by the gardai all relate to planning matters over the past decade.

The west Waterford town -- which is home to Waterford County Council -- is one of the fastest expanding urban areas in Ireland and has witnessed dramatic development over the past decade.

The garda probe was launched in early 2005 when an individual Waterford County Council employee raised concerns over specific planning matters with senior local authority officials.

After an internal inquiry, the matter was referred to the gardai and a major investigation was launched, led by Dungarvan gardai.

To date, Waterford County Council has refused to allow an open council debate on the matter -- stressing that it would be inappropriate, given the ongoing nature of the garda inquiry.

One person has already been charged in relation to the investigation.

Gardai have made a number of arrests since 2005 in relation to their inquiry, all of which were made under anti-corruption regulations.

- Ralph Riegel
Irish Independent

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