An Bord Pleanála (ABP) deputy chairperson Paul Hyde was nominated to the board by an organisation that didn’t legally exist. The news raises questions as to whether Hyde was ever legally appointed to the board.
The same organisation, the Irish Rural Dwellers Association (IRDA), successfully nominated another candidate to the board around the same time. This meant that IRDA beat out An Taisce, the Heritage Council and the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland for two available board positions.
IRDA’s other nomination to the board is now chairperson of the far-right Irish Freedom Party.
It hadn’t traded since 2011. It nominated Hyde in 2013
IRDA nominated Hyde for the role of ordinary board member “by the end November 2013”, according to a housing department spokesperson. Former Fine Gael minister Phil Hogan appointed Hyde to the board in May 2014.
The organisation, a representative body for rural homeowners, had however been dissolved on 6 April, 2012, according to Companies Registration Office (CRO) records.
By the time of Hyde’s formal appointment IRDA hadn’t legally existed for almost two years. It hadn’t traded for almost two years before his nomination.
In a 5 December, 2011 letter, IRDA directors Jim Connolly and James Doyle said they had decided that “a request be made to the Companies Registrar to have the name of the… company struck off”. The letter, filed with the CRO, added that IRDA had “ceased trading since 28 November 2011”.
On 6 April 2012 the CRO formally removed the company from its register, meaning it was no longer a legal entity.
A month later in May 2012, Phil Hogan appointed another IRDA nominee to ABP. Architect Micheal Leahy spent five years on the ABP board before going on to run his own planning consultancy firm. Last March he succeeded Dolores Cahill as chairperson of the Irish Freedom Party.
Founded in 2003, IRDA was in 2006 added to the list of prescribed organisations entitled to nominate candidates for ABP board vacancies.
Organisations prescribed under regulations are divided into four panels, with two board members permitted from each group. IRDA is listed in panel D among 12 other organisations. Hyde and Leahy’s appointments meant IRDA held both panel D positions until the end of Leahy’s term.
Hyde, who is also chairperson of the board’s strategic housing development division, has stepped aside from his role pending the outcome of two separate investigations into a series of alleged conflicts of interest published by The Ditch.
“In accordance with planning legislation, Paul Hyde was nominated by the Irish Rural Dwellers Association for consideration for appointment as an ordinary member of An Bord Pleanála by the end of November 2013,” said a spokesperson for housing minister Darragh O’Brien.
The housing minister would not comment when asked to explain how Hyde had been nominated by a defunct organisation.