Wednesday, 28 November 1990
Dáil Éireann Debate
23. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment the progress which has been made with regard to the investigation being conducted into the planning process in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Shatter: Will the Minister acknowledge that for over a year and a half a substantial cloud has been hanging over the planning process in Dublin city and county due to various allegations of bribery in relation to the planning process both at local authority and An Bord Pleanála levels? Can he advise the House as to whether the only prosecution that is to take place is the one that was completed in the courts yesterday against a person who was given a suspended sentence? Is any further investigation taking place? Are any further prosecutions envisaged? Will the Minister not agree that in the interest of maintaining the integrity of the planning process and the  planning officials of the two local authorities and those of An Bord Pleanála this matter needs to be cleared up once and for all?
Mr. Flynn: I am aware of no information other than that which I read in the newspapers, just as the Deputy is not aware of any further details either. This investigation is a matter for the Garda and I am not aware of any details connected with it.
Mr. Shatter: Is the Minister not aware that the entire planning staff in Dublin Corporation and Dublin County Council, and the staff of An Bord Pleanála, have been interviewed by the Garda over the past year and a half? Does he not accept that the integrity of the planning process, and its credibility, should be of direct concern to him and that until this matter is cleared up, and a frank public statement made of the position, a cloud will hang over the entire planning process in Dublin? Will the Minister not accept that he has a responsibility to answer questions in this House as to the position in this regard? Is this investigation at an end or is it to continue?
Mr. Flynn: I am surprised at the Deputy pursuing this matter in this fashion. He is seeking to elicit details from me about an investigation which I have nothing to do with and details of which I am not aware. There is no point in pursuing this. It is not my responsibility.
Mr. Quinn: The Minister requested the Garda to investigate this matter in the first instance, is that not so? Accordingly, has he at any stage sought a progress report as to what stage the inquiry was at or when it might be completed? In view of the long delay, has he any intention now of requesting the authorities he invited in in the first instance to terminate their inquiries or produce a report?
Mr. Shatter: Does he intend to obtain any report, either from his ministerial colleague in the Department of Justice or from the Garda authorities, as to the results of his calling the Garda in to investigate this matter?
Mr. Flynn: That was an entirely different matter. Matters were brought to my attention and I felt it my duty and responsibility to refer that matter to my leader. That was what I did and that investigation ensued from that.
Mr. Quinn: The Labour Party commended the action the Government took at the time as being prompt and correct. In view of the cloud of suspicion that has hung over the planning department for more than a year and a half, can the Minister take whatever appropriate action is available to him to end, complete or finalise this process because of the damage it is doing? Will he indicate to the House what he can do in that regard?
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