Inquiry urged over plans

A Kerry businessman involved in a planning dispute has said he intends to pursue “to the bitter end” his campaign for an inquiry into the manner in which the ombudsman’s office had handled his complaint against Limerick County Council.

Sean O’Mahony, of Faha, Killarney, Co Kerry, had been refused planning permission in 2009 by the then county council for 10 houses and a temporary sewage treatment plant on a 55-acre farm he had purchased at Ardagh, Newcastlewest.

Mr O’Mahony claimed he would not have gone to the expense of lodging a planning application if he had been given correct information at pre-planning meetings with council officials.

However, he has now secured the support of members of the Limerick City and County Council.

Councillors passed a motion calling on Environment Minister Alan Kelly to set up an external independent investigation into his case.

Mr O’Mahony subsequently made a complaint to ombudsman Peter Tyndall, who did not uphold the complaint.

Mr Tyndall said he personally reviewed the files and, while he had found “some failings” on the council’s part which could and should have done things differently, they did not constitute significant maladministration.

The ombudsman had also said the failings “did not give rise to the adverse effect that merited the redress of a significant sum of money which the complainant sought”.

“In short, it was and remains our view that the decision not to award planning permission would not have differed if the administrative failings identified had not occurred,” he wrote.

Mr O’Mahony, meantime, has made a number of requests to Mr Kelly for an independent investigation.

However, in reply to a Dáil question from Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris, on February 19, Mr Kelly said he could exercise no control in relation to a planning case in which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála were involved.

In a further letter this week to all Kerry TDs and senators, Mr O’Mahony claimed the minister was treating his case as a planning issue which was “totally incorrect”.

The issue, Mr O’Mahony asserted, was primarily about the manner in which council officials had dealt with his case.

“If this was a planning issue, I would have appealed the decision to An Bord Pleanála but the board does not deal with maladministration issues which the minister’s office should be aware of,” he said.


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