"More Serious Deterrent Needed for those in An Bord Pleanála who abuse their positions" - O'Reilly
Aontú Councillor, Sarah O'Reilly, has called for a 'more serious deterrent' to prevent people in positions of authority within the planning system from abusing their power. She was speaking after a former deputy chairman of An Bord Pleanála was sentenced to two months in jail when he pleaded guilty to making false or misleading declarations of interest to the State planning appeals body.
Speaking this week, Cllr O'Reilly said: "The judge in this case said the breaches in questions were very serious. We need proper accountability here - there has to be a very strong deterrent against people committing breaches of planning rules in positions of authority. They must be made examples of. We must also review recent planning decisions to see if there was any unethical behaviour going on behind the scenes. Here in County Cavan we have a host of telecommunication structures, masts and monopoles, including structures in Killeshandra, Ballyjamesduff and Kingscourt. Was everything here above board?"
Cllr O'Reilly continued: "The only way that decisions, made by the planning board, can be overturned, is through a judicial review in the courts. Given the extraordinary revelations around An Bord Pleanála in recent times, I think it would only be fair to allow campaign groups and individuals who have dedicated such time and effort into protecting their communities, easier access to the judicial review process".
"Since these revelations I feel that the time limits on judicial reviews should be relaxed. Given that Mr Hyde was one of the people involved in making a lot of decisions on planning appeals and applications, and his admissions in court, we need to be able to go back and scrutinise every decision that he made. The investigation into the scandal was not broad enough - "conflicts of interest" was what was investigated - we also need to look at the potential of corrupt practices within the organisation and examine specific decisions that may have raised eyebrows or seemed odd at the time. My gut tells me there is more to this story", concluded Cllr O'Reilly.