Thursday 18 September 2008

Former city architect withdrawn as witness in Dunne hearing

The former Dublin city architect Jim Barrett was withdrawn before he was due to give evidence on behalf of Seán Dunne at the An Bord Pleanála hearing on Mr Dunne’s ballsbridge plans, amid accusations of conflict of interest.

Counsel for Mr Dunne, Micheal O’Connell, withdrew Mr Barrett as a witness following objections from the legal representatives of Dublin City Council, businessman Dermot Desmond, and 22 local residents opposing the high-rise development.

Mr Barrett retired from the council last year but had attended pre-planning meetings with the developer in relation to the scheme for the site of the former Jurys and Berkeley Court hotels before his retirement.

Barrister for Dublin City Council, John Gallagher, had said he had been given “no prior notice” of Mr Barrett’s attendance and said “it is not appropriate that Mr Barrettt should give evidence on behalf of the applicants”.

Barrister for 22 appellants Colm MacEochaidh said that Mr Barrett had represented “the people, the city and the planners” at the pre-planning meeting.

“He has now crossed the floor and is advising the developer.”

Counsel for Mr Desmond, Michael O’Donnell, said Mr Barrett had been “in a very senior position and very involved in the process” and that his appearance was “inappropriate”.

Mr O’Connell said Mr Barrett was a former employee of the council and had appeared voluntarily at the hearing, but said he would withdraw him so as not to distract from the business of the hearing.

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