Gardai have interviewed “a substantial number of witnesses” in its investigation into bogus letters for a planned €10m Supermac’s motorway forecourt outside Ennis.
The scale of the investigation was revealed as Supermac’s owner, Pat McDonagh confirmed that he will submit fresh plans for the plaza-forecourt in the next four weeks after he withdrew the existing plan earlier this week.
Mr McDonagh said that the withdrawal of the planning application and the decision to lodge fresh plans for the site on the Galway to Limerick motorway had “absolutely nothing” to do with the controversy.
He said that the decision to withdraw the planning application came after Clare County Council requested further information last year.
The council raised a potential stumbling block by saying Transport Infrastructure Ireland had raised an issue about a sewer connection for the project crossing the River Fergus.
A Garda spokesman in Ennis confirmed it had interviewed “a substantial number of witnesses” concerning an investigation into bogus letters.
A total of 187 letters were lodged last summer in support of the plaza project. Subsequently, about 40 people contacted the council to complain that they had not written the letters.
The bogus letters used names and addresses without their knowledge and allegedly involved forged signatures. The Garda spokesman said: “We have interviewed a substantial number of witnesses and have a substantial number of witnesses interviews yet to take place.”
The spokesman said the investigation is “complex” and that a file will be going to the Director of Public Prosecutions in due course.
Supermac’s last year said it was “horrified” to learn about the bogus letters.
Mr McDonagh said that the letters had “nothing to do with us and that issue has been clarified”.
Asked whether garda had been in touch, Mr McDonagh said: “No one from the Gardaí has been in touch with me.”
The new application for the site outside Ennis will be the fourth application Mr McDonagh will have lodged for the site. First lodged in 2014, the plans were refused by An Bord Pleanála.