The Ditch can exclusively reveal that a man who lodged planning objections to secure cash payments from property developers is a former Fine Gael election candidate and party official.
John Callaghan received payments of up to €50,000 in exchange for withdrawing strategically lodged planning objections, according to an RTÉ Investigates programme due to broadcast this evening.
Had he been elected to Kells town council, one of his priorities would’ve been “restoring faith in the planning process”, according to a May 23, 2009 article in the Meath Chronicle.
Originally from Westport in county Mayo, Callaghan was selected to run for the party at the 2009 Kells Town Council election where he received 51 first preference votes.
A mechanical and civil engineer, in 2010 Callaghan was also Fine Gael’s public relations officer for the party’s Kells branch in justice minister Helen McEntee’s Meath East constituency. It is unclear if he is still a member of the party.
Along with his brother Michael, Callaghan is alleged to have sought payments ranging from €10,000 to €50,000 from builders in exchange for withdrawing planning objections submitted through a bogus “environmental” NGO, according to RTÉ.
Callaghan is alleged to have told an undercover reporter that he would include “token comments” in planning objections to delay developments. This would ultimately help the ex-Fine Gael candidate to secure cash payoffs in return for withdrawing these comments.
Fine Gael has been contacted for comment.