Friday 21 October 2016

Councillor failed to disclose her two property assets and voted against social housing

Martin Grant and Laura Larkin

Published 09/12/2015 | 06:39

Anne Marie Dermody
Anne Marie Dermody
Aine Collins with Taoiseach Enda Kenny

A COUNCILLOR who failed to fully disclose her assets and voted against social housing developments is the landlord of two properties.

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Anne-Marie Dermody failed to register a house in Clondalkin, Dublin, and another in the town of Portumna in Galway.

The South Dublin Fine Gael councillor also failed to disclose she held a directorship of a company alongside celebrity gardener Diarmuid Gavin.

The Herald has learned Ms Dermody - the landlord of two properties - voted against two social housing projects.

Ms Dermody was the only councillor to vote against two separate social housing developments in Killinarden and Rathfarnham.

Although she admitted to making an "inaccurate" declaration, Ms Dermody said there was "absolutely nothing to see" in her financial and property affairs.

"In my previous declaration I had declared everything, and then this time round it was the same as the last time, so I simply answered as before," Ms Dermody told the Herald.

"Both properties are registered with the Private Residential Tenancy Board (PRTB) and (there is) no conflict of interest, good, bad or indifferent.

"Both properties are included in our tax affairs and returns every year. It was inaccurate because I was supposed to list them," she added.

The solicitor also maintains she is not against social housing - rather she had concerns about the proposed developments.

In relation to Killinarden, Ms Dermody said she rejected the social housing project on technical issues.

She claimed certain public bodies were not notified about the development and "the council were in breech of their own rules".

"The council had failed to follow the legal formalities… that planning notice was supposed to be left up there for the duration of the public consultation (and) it wasn't," the councillor said.

Ms Dermody said she rejected the proposal to build council houses in Rathfarnham because it was near to a school and local Travellers were not consulted.

"We don't have enough room for schools in this area and this was one more opportunity.

"We have Travellers living next to the particular site and they have been in temporary accommodation for 10 years. I wanted the Travellers that are there to be properly housed."

Ms Dermody said she didn't list her directorship of Diarmuid Gavin Designs Limited because the company "wasn't trading" and she has since resigned from the company.

The councillor featured in the gardener's hit RTE show I Want A Garden, where Diarmuid had a budget of €50,000 to create a "woodland feel" at her home in leafy Rathfarnham.

Ms Dermody said the RTE Investigates programme was "so far from reality" and "doesn't reflect what is happening on the ground".

Meanwhile, Oireachtas members named during the RTE Prime Time Investigates programme have complained that minor errors on their declarations of interests were highlighted alongside more serious allegations.

Former minister John Perry, who was shown to have a derelict car park that was not declared, told the Herald his case had "no relevance" to the programme and he has not had to amend his records.

Cork North-West TD Aine Collins said omitting two directorships was "clearly an error", but added it was "unfortunate to be on the same programme where there were serious omissions and corruption".

Cork East TD Tom Barry said it was "outrageous" that RTE would draw comparisons between public representatives forgetting to file declarations and councillors apparently seeking personal gain from performing their duties.

RTE declined to comment.

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