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Report on An Bord Pleanála is referred to DPP by Minister O’Brien

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Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien

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Fingal TD and the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, has, on the advice of the Attorney General, referred the report completed by Mr. Remy Farrell SC, ‘Report into the management of conflicts of interest and relevant disclosures by the Deputy Chairperson of An Bord Pleanála in relation to certain decisions of that Board and related matters’, to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), An Garda Síochana (AGS) and the Standards in Public Office (SIPO).

It is now a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions as to whether a criminal prosecution should be undertaken arising from the findings of the report.

It would be inappropriate for the Minister to comment further on this specific matter. The Minister has also sought the views of the DPP in relation to the publication of the report having regard to the possibility of a prosecution.

The Minister would again like to thank Mr. Farrell S.C. and Mr. Chris Mills B.L. who assisted Mr. Farrell in his work.

Minister O’Brien is awaiting the conclusion of a separate internal report from a Senior Management Team within An Bord Pleanála which was requested by Mr. Dave Walsh, Chairperson of An Bord Pleanála.

It is expected that this internal report will examine further allegations of wrongdoing.

Minister O’Brien will decide on any further course of action, including possible legislative amendments, following consideration of this report.

Separately, and in order to uphold trust in the planning system and maintain its on-going functionality, Minister O’Brien has set out a series of actions which will be undertaken:

An independent organisational review of ABP will be carried out by the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) including independent planning experts from other jurisdictions and Conleth Bradley S.C.

Staff of ABP will have an opportunity to substantially engage with this internal review. The OPR review will help inform other internal changes as required and will also assist in identifying legislative amendments which may be required.

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Conscious of the significant workload on the staff of ABP, Minister O’Brien sanctioned a further 24 posts for ABP under the 2021-2022 Workforce Plan which are currently being recruited and intends to approve a further substantial increase in staffing for ABP shortly to ensure it is fully equipped to meet the demands of our planning system.

These additional staff members will be hired in tandem with the recommended organisational reforms set out by the OPR review to create a fully fit for purpose body.

The current appointment process will be overhauled and the process for nominations in place at the moment will cease.

The Minister will bring a plan to Cabinet in the coming weeks which will outline a new appointments process for members of ABP underpinned by new legislation.


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