A Fianna Fáil county councillor's son built a house without planning permission on land he doesn’t own after it was repossessed by his mortgage lender and sold to his father’s friend.
Planning consultant Thomas Walsh, son of Fianna Fáil Galway county councillor Séamus Walsh, told The Ditch, “I don’t know what you're talking about,” when asked about the illegally built house in Curraghduff, Oughterard, county Galway.
His councillor father, whose close friend bought the land after it was repossessed, said he “can’t comment”.
Meanwhile a spokesperson for Galway County Council told The Ditch it has “no record of a complaint in relation to an unauthorised development at the address of that Eircode”.
‘Can’t comment on anything like that’
In 2008 Thomas Walsh, then aged 23, bought the 20-hectare parcel of farmland in Curraghduff with a mortgage from ACC Bank, according to Land Registry records.
Walsh ran into financial difficulty and it is understood that ACC Bank appointed a receiver to sell the land in 2015.
A good friend of Walsh’s father, veteran Fianna Fáil county councillor Séamus Walsh, then stepped in.
The friend, Michael Landy, bought the land without a mortgage in 2015, according to an entry in the property’s folio.
Shortly after the holding was sold to Landy, Thomas Walsh began building a house on the land.
He didn't get planning permission from Galway County Council for this house.
The house was substantially completed by 2017, according to satellite images seen by The Ditch, and has been allocated an Eircode.
Though Thomas Walsh denied any knowledge of the unlawfully built house, a woman who serves as a director of his planning consultancy is listed as residing at the address, both on Companies Registration Office records and the electoral register.
In April 2021, Thomas Walsh was adjudicated bankrupt in the High Court.
He told the court he was residing at his father’s home in Glann, Oughterard, county Galway, according to bankruptcy register records. He was automatically discharged from bankruptcy by law in April 2022.
When asked about his relationship with landowner Michael Landy and his knowledge of the house built by his son without planning permission, Fianna Fáil councillor Séamus Walsh told The Ditch he “can’t comment on anything like that”.
In a statement to The Ditch, a spokesperson for Galway County Council planning department said, “If somebody wants to submit a complaint in writing we will follow it up.”