Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education Niall Collins has said he is “entirely satisfied” that the planning application for his family home in Co Limerick was filed correctly and properly.
The Fianna Fáil TD for Limerick County made a statement in the Dáil on Thursday evening following allegations regarding a planning application he submitted in 2001.
A report by The Ditch had claimed that Mr Collins should not have been granted planning permission as he already owned a home.
However, Mr Collins criticised the report’s “misleading and inaccurate contents”, stating he met Limerick County Council’s criteria at the time as conditions relating to housing-need were not brought into effect in Limerick until 2004.
Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Collins said to suggest his 2001 application “was not valid or did not meet the planning criteria is entirely factually incorrect and inaccurate”.
The Dáil heard Mr Collins had acquired a home in another part of the country two years prior to the application in question, but wished to return to his home area – Patrickswell – to build a property on his family’s land where he wished to rear his children.
He explained: “My home area of Patrickswell was deemed to be in the pressure area as designated by the 1999 Limerick County Development Plan, which was the overarching planning policy document and upon which planning decisions were made at the time.
“The decision on my planning application for my new home near my parents would be based on the policy contained in the 1999 Limerick County Development Plan, which clearly stated that any person who lived in the pressure area prior to 1990 was eligible to be granted permission.”
Mr Collins said, in this regard, the “most material factor” in the planning application was that he had lived in Patrickswell for 28 years, including prior to 1990 as required by the development plan’s policy.
“The matter of whether I owned a house with my wife near Limerick city, which was outside the pressure area, was not an issue of consideration or policy at the time under that county development plan and whether I had stated that or not was immaterial to the planning adjudication process 23 years ago,” he added.
He said that the documents relating to the planning process for the property are available for inspection at the local authority, reiterating: “I am entirely satisfied that my planning application 23 years ago for my family home met the correct planning criteria and was correctly adjudicated upon.”