Wednesday 3 December 2008

Councillor censured for striking deal with developer

AN Independent Killarney councillor has been censured under the ethics in public office legislation after striking a deal with a local developer on condition that he withdrew an appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

However, an investigation found Cllr Donal Grady had no personal gain in the matter.

His activities were probed by Killarney Town Council manager John Breen and Killarney mayor Patrick O’Donoghue who is himself facing charges in the circuit criminal court under the ethics legislation.

The manager and mayor presented their investigation report to the council, on Monday night. The report was “noted” without any discussion taking place.

On November 14, 2006, Cllr Grady wrote to the council saying he had come to an agreement with Park Partnership Developers who would provide €20,000 for extra safety work at a junction in Pinewood Estate, Killarney.

He pointed out the payment was on condition that he withdrew his appeal to a commercial development being carried by the developers.

However, the council later refused to accept a cheque from the developers because of ethical concerns and referred the matter to its ethics officer, Brian Looney.

Denis Murphy and Mark Corkery, directors of Park Partnership, were among a number of people interviewed during the subsequent ethics investigation. Both directors said they did not feel pressurised to make a payment and saw it as a goodwill gesture to local residents.

In their investigation, Mr Breen and Mayor O’Donoghue found no evidence of personal gain to Cllr Grady.

But, they said his conduct was in breach of Section 168 of the Local Government Act 2001 and found Cllr Grady “seriously compromised” standards set down in the code of conduct.

Yesterday, Cllr Grady claimed it was ‘not a fair report’ and said he would be consulting his solicitor. He also claimed he was not advised by any official to seek advice in relation to ethics, but went to the council of his own accord.

Irish Examiner

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