Two more Bord Pleanála board members. More votes on developments in their own neighbourhoods

Two further Bord Pleanála (ABP) board members voted on at least three developments in their own neighbourhoods.

These latest decisions are in addition to cases involving board member Michelle Fagan voting in her home suburb of Rathmines as reported by The Ditch. ABP’s code of conduct prohibits board members from voting on proposed developments in their “immediate neighbourhood”.

ABP chairperson Dave Walsh is today appearing before the Public Accounts Committee where he is to address ongoing public disquiet about ongoing allegations of conflicts of interest and serious governance issues at ABP.

Meet Terry Ó Niadh and Chris McGarry

In March 2020 ABP board member Terry Ó Niadh granted permission to Tipperary County Council to install a drainage network on the R445 road in county town Nenagh. Ó Niadh lives in Nenagh and served as county manager of Tipperary County Council from 2000 to 2010.

This was not the first time O’Niadh voted on developments in his own neighbourhood.

Three Ireland in February 2018 appealed a Tipperary County Council decision to impose a levy on the mobile network operator as part of its plans for a 30-metre high communications mast at Springfort Retail Park in Nenagh.

At a 9 August, 2018 board meeting Ó Niadh overruled the council’s decision and ruled that Three Ireland would not have to pay the €27,200 levy.

Ó Niadh’s board colleague Chris McGarry, former head of planning at property developer Glenveagh Properties, has voted on a planning case less than half a kilometre from his home.

In June 2020 Thornmont Ltd appealed Dublin City Council’s ruling that the company needed planning permission for an additional 10 bedrooms at its hotel on the South Circular Road in Kilmainham.

In October that year, ABP McGarry voted to overturn this decision and ruled that planning permission wasn’t required. McGarry did not recuse himself from the case despite the fact that his home is also on the South Circular Road – just 400 metres from the hotel.

The Planning Inspectorate, England’s ABP equivalent, when asked about procedures it has in place to deal with similar situations, said, “The system used for casework allocation purposes has pre-set configuration for proximity preclusions (five-kilometre radius).”

ABP board members Terry O’Niadh and Chris McGarry declined to comment.

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors