Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing has called for a “fresh start” as well as new leadership at An Bord Pleanála after the planning appeals body has been mired in scandal.
Back in July, the deputy chair of An Bord Pleanála, Paul Hyde resigned from his position, pre-empting the outcome of a number of inquiries into decisions he has made in his capacity as the second most senior board member.
In early May, the Housing Minister appointed senior counsel Remy Farrell to investigate allegations that Mr Hyde had failed to declare conflicts of interest in a number of planning decisions.
During Thursday’s Dáil debate on the ongoing crisis at An Bord Pleanála, Eoin Ó Broin said things can only be resolved with a significant change of its membership.
“An Bord Pleanála is in a deep crisis. This has been caused by an avalanche of revelations in the media, led by The Ditch online news site, regarding conflicts of interest, improper decision-making and breaches of internal procedures.
“These revelations related to seven members of An Bord Pleanála, have led to three inquiries, one resignation, possible criminal proceedings, no-confidence motions in a number of local authorities and a dramatic loss of public confidence.
“An Bord Pleanála has also suffered from bad planning policy from government, including the conflict between central government mandatory ministerial guidelines and city and county development plans.
“This has led to a dramatic increase in legal challenges to legally questionable An Bord Pleanála decisions, lost judicial reviews and significant increase in legal costs.”
Ó Broin called on the Minister for Housing to act urgently to restore public confidence in the work of An Bord Pleanála.
He added “This can only be achieved with a significant change of its membership.”
“Responsibility starts at the top, and the Minister must be bold in doing what is necessary to restore public confidence in An Bord Pleanála’s work.
“He must bring forward legislation to change the way in which its members are appointed and to strengthen its internal governance and adherence to procedures,” he said.