Wednesday 30 July 2008

Killarney town councillor faces ethics inquiry

AN ETHICS investigation into Killarney town councillor Donal Grady is under way, to be undertaken by the mayor of Killarney, as well as the town manager, according to a statement from Killarney Town Council.

The ethics investigation into Mr Grady, an independent councillor, was confirmed by the council last week after Mr Grady negotiated money from a developer in return for withdrawing a planning appeal he had lodged with An Bord Pleanála against the development of an office and retail park.

Mr Grady has insisted everything “is above board”, that he contacted the ethics registrar himself about the matter and that the €25,000 payment had been lodged with a solicitor for the benefit of local residents.

The developer, who has not denied the payment, had also paid €71,825 in development levies to Killarney Town Council as part of his planning conditions.

It was not expected that the investigation would be conducted by the mayor of Killarney Patrick O’Donoghue. Mr O’Donoghue, who was unanimously elected mayor last month, is currently facing criminal charges for alleged breaches of local government ethics legislation relating to a planning matter.

Mr Grady said last week he expected the matter would be referred to the Standards in Public Office Commission in Dublin.

However, a council spokesman said it was part of the duty of a mayor to carry out such an investigation and there was nothing in the legislation to prevent Mr O’Donoghue from conducting the inquiry.

Last May, Mr O’Donoghue, a Fianna Fáil town councillor and managing director of the Gleneagle Hotel Group, was sent forward for trial from Killarney District Court on two charges, both of which were brought under section 181 (4) of the Local Government Act 2001 and section 177 of the Ethics Acts 1995 and 2001.

The charges are that between January 1st and March 6th, 2006, at the Gleneagle Hotel, he influenced, or sought to influence, the decision of the council in respect of a motion to rezone land at the Gleneagle Hotel and that he failed to withdraw from the town council meeting on March 6th, 2006, when the motion was considered.

Mr O’Donoghue is contesting the charges. The matter has been adjourned to the Circuit Criminal Court on October 6th, when it is expected a date will be set for the trial.

Mr Grady was one of five councillors to sign the rezoning motion in 2006.

The statement issued yesterday said: “Killarney Town Council can confirm that the ethics investigation into Killarney town councillor Donal Grady has commenced . . . Once the investigation has been finalised, a report will be issued to the ethics registrar.”

The Irish Times

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