Ex-attorney general Paul Gallagher is working for a multinational property developer on a long-running case in which he was previously listed as a respondent.
US property giant Hines has been the subject of a legal challenge for the last three years over its plans for a controversial development in Dublin 8. The Ditch previously reported that the Bord Pleanála board told an inspector to change parts of his report on the proposed project.
Gallagher, in his capacity as attorney general, was named as a respondent when the case was first heard. He’s now working for Hines. A source close to the case, who feared the threat of a SLAPP if named, told The Ditch, “It’s sickening and indicative of everything that’s wrong with modern Ireland.”
'Spearheading a three-pronged approach to overhauling planning laws'
After Hines, which claims to manage a global property portfolio worth around $90.3 billion, in September 2020 received planning permission for a 732 build-to-rent apartments on Dublin’s South Circular Road, a residents’ group initiated a High Court challenge.
Hines had previously met with the residents and informed them of its plans for a development that would’ve been significantly smaller. The residents’ case began in November 2020 and listed the state, An Bord Pleanála and the attorney general, then Paul Gallagher, as respondents.
The case was referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union and in March this year the court found in favour of Hines. The residents in Dublin 8 however maintained the challenge in Irish courts and it’s since been referred to the Supreme Court.
Gallagher during his time as attorney general, according to the Irish Examiner, was “spearheading a three-pronged approach to overhauling planning laws” in an effort to make it harder for people to take judicial reviews against planning decisions.
Now, having only left the attorney general’s office last December, he’s working for a major developer in a judicial review.
Court documents seen by The Ditch list Gallagher as a legal representative for the notice party, along with two other barristers and two Arthur Cox lawyers.
A source close to the case told The Ditch that residents initially thought that An Bord Pleanála would keep Hines in check but that these hopes weren’t realised. The three-person board meeting that granted the developer planning permission under the phased-out strategic housing development legislation was led by the now criminally convicted Paul Hyde.
“Nothing shocks people in the community anymore but seeing the most recent attorney general representing Hines in a case against a community reeling from a decision made by a now convict takes the biscuit.
“Now he is defending one of these funds against a tiny group of locals fighting for a commonsense and sustainable approach to development in their area,” they said.
Gallagher declined to comment.