Fianna Fáil candidate lied about conviction and planning breaches

A Fianna Fáil election candidate with a criminal conviction and enforcement action for breaching planning law tried to claim to The Ditch these issues concern a different person with the same name.

Shane McGuinness denied he’s being pursued by Louth County Council for illegally converting a garage into a second residential unit at the back of his property in Newtownbabe.

“I have no issues at all with planning, I think you must have the wrong Shane McGuinness. There’s five Shane McGuinness’s in Dundalk,” said the Fianna Fáil first-time candidate earlier today – despite his mobile number, email address, parental home address and residence appearing on planning files relating to the same property.

‘There's lots of different Shane McGuinnesses’ 

Fianna Fáil last year selected health and safety consultant Shane McGuinness to run as an election candidate for the Dundalk-South local electoral area in county Louth.

McGuinness was prosecuted in 2008 after it emerged he was living in a newly built 3,250 square foot house in Newtownbabe that had been granted permission by Louth County Council on the basis that the original applicant, David McMahon, would use it as his primary residence.

The court heard that McGuinness, who is from an urban housing estate in nearby Blackrock, did not qualify to build a house under rural local needs rules. McGuinness, who was described as a “small builder”, had “taken over the building of the property from Mr McMahon.

The council prosecuted McGuinness after he failed to comply with an enforcement notice it had issued against him in 2006. His three applications for retention permission were refused in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

The Fianna Fáil candidate received a criminal conviction at Dundalk District Court in May 2008 and was fined €635, according to a report in the Argus.

The ex-builder however insists he has no convictions.

“Excuse me, I was never convicted of anything. You better get your facts straight now, or I will be talking to my solicitor,” said McGuinness in a phone call with The Ditch this afternoon.

“Yeah, no, there's lots of different Shane McGuinnesses, I think, you've the wrong information,” he said.

McGuinness continued to live in the Newtownbabe, Haggerdstown house after his conviction and submitted a fourth retention application to Louth County Council in 2009, which was ultimately decided by local county councillors.

The council members voted to breach the county development plan and grant McGuinness retention permission, allowing him to remain living on the property.

Despite his good fortune, a decade later, McGuinness was again caught flouting planning law at the same site. 

This time he was accused of converting a garage at the rear of his house into a second residential dwelling without permission and illegally installing 34 solar panels on his land.

Enforcement notices were issued against the Louth man in 2019 over the unlawful developments. In 2021 an unsuccessful application to retain the solar panels was submitted to the council. Later that year the local authority granted permission to retain the solar energy installation but refused to allow the retention of the second dwelling unit. 

Louth County Council confirmed to The Ditch today that its enforcement file against McGuinness concerning the unlawfully built second house is still open.

McGuinness again claimed he was the victim of mistaken identity when he was read details of the planning enforcement actions against him.

“I think you've got the wrong Shane McGuinness,” he said despite his mobile phone number, email address, details of his childhood home and photos of his house all appearing on planning files relating to the property.

In February this year McGuinness claimed in his election material that “one of the biggest issues in Dundalk South is the overdevelopment of new houses without infrastructure and amenities”.

Shane McGuinness declined to respond to an email offering him an opportunity to explain why he lied about his identity when speaking to The Ditch earlier today.

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors