Sunday 9 November 2008

Chairman John O'Connor faces barristers after comments about oral hearing histrionics

Last week, on release of the An Bord Pleanála Annual Report, Chairman of the Board, John O'Connor took the opportunity to criticise lawyers, stating: "There is concern that some lawyers participating in hearings are engaging in courtroom histrionics which may be good for the odd headline but have no place in a planning hearing".

Attending a planning law conference on Saturday, Mr O'Connor again made these criticisms.

Criticism of Mr O'Connor's position was voiced by a number of barristers; however, the criticism reached a high point with a speech by Mr Garrett Simons, S.C whose 5 minute review of Mr O'Connor's comments was both pointed and funny, calling Mr O'Connor both the "elephant in the room" and "Sarah Palin".

Mr O'Connor responded at the end of the conference by clarifying his comments, stating that oral hearings should be conducted as per the intention of the Planning Acts.

It is clear that Mr O'Connor touched a nerve and upset lawyers, who, as one might expect, reacted with vigour, but it is equally clear that he is capable of weathering such histrionics.

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