Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Gilmore insists planning probes not suppressed

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has denied the Government is suppressing planning inquiries into irregularities in seven local authorities and pledged to publish details of the reviews.
He rejected suggestions that independent investigations into the authorities across six counties were halted when the Fine Gael-Labour coalition took power last year.

As the fall-out from the Mahon Tribunal continued yesterday, Fianna Fáil deflected attention from itself by accusing the Government of resistance to independent planning inquiries.

The reviews into planning between 2007 and 2009 were originally launched by the last government.

The local authorities concerned are Dublin City Council, Carlow County Council, Galway County Council, Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Meath County Council and Donegal County Council.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said: "An independent review was suppressed by the incoming Government. It is a serious issue that demands a serious response from the Government."

He claimed Environment Minister Phil Hogan "suppressed them when he came into office" after the inquiries were initiated by his predecessor, John Gormley.

But Mr Gilmore dismissed the allegations and claimed that Mr Gormley had done nothing seven months after beginning the planning reviews in June 2010.

The reviews, now been done by internal staff only, would be completed in April and details made public, he said.

"The minister [Hogan] has committed to issuing a public statement outlining in full the complaints at issue, the response and any appropriate actions to be pursued in regard to further policy development and guidance in line with the commitments in the Programme for Government."

But Mr Martin said the response from the Labour leader was a "complete whitewash".

He said the Department of Environment had initiated reviews into the six counties as early as 2009.

Initial checks in Carlow had found effective planning law enforcement "was not in place", he added.

Complaints were received from the public, the Ombudsman, An Taisce and other bodies about planning practices in the six counties in recent years, he said.

Fianna Fáil environment spokesman Niall Collins pointed out that government parties now dominated the councils in question.

But Mr Gilmore added: "There is no suppression.

"If there is any follow-up action required, that action will be taken."

Read the article @ The Irish Examiner


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