ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley has insisted he is complying with the “letter of the law” in the way he is handling an incinerator project which he and his constituents oppose.
Fine Gael has made a formal complaint to SIPO, the state’s ethics watchdog, claiming Mr Gormley has a clear conflict of interest and has breached the code of conduct for office-holders.
Although an opponent of the incinerator proposed for Poolbeg in his own Dublin South East constituency, Mr Gormley is the minister with responsibility for adjudicating on a foreshore licence for the project.
Dublin City Council sought the licence in 2008 but the Department of the Environment says the application has only been on its desk since last January, when responsibility for foreshore licences was transferred from the Department of Agriculture. Until the licence is issued, the US company behind the incinerator, Covanta Energy, cannot move ahead. Mr Gormley denied last week he was deliberately delaying the licence, saying he would deal with the application in a “fair and transparent manner”.
But Fine Gael environment spokesman Phil Hogan, who has already called for the decision to be taken out of Mr Gormley’s hands, has now made a formal complaint to SIPO.
In the complaint, Mr Hogan claims Mr Gormley’s actions “represent a clear conflict of interest which raises serious issues in terms of the code of conduct for office holders” and alleges the minister has breached seven aspects of the code.
Mr Hogan points out that the incinerator has already secured the approval of An Bord Pleanála, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Development Agency. He also contends the minister is “not acting in good faith vis a vis the local authorities concerned or the facility operator and is allowing his personal, electoral and constituency considerations to take precedence over his obligations as an office-holder”, according to a Sunday Independent report.
But a spokesman for Mr Gormley yesterday insisted the minister was processing the licence and adhering to the letter of the law.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved