Gardaí probe planning claims

CLARE gardaí are investigating allegations that official planning documents for a hotel and holiday homes at a controversial €25 million golf course were altered.

David McNamara of Parteen, Co Clare, has complained to Ennis gardaí about documents sent by Clare County Council to An Bord Pleanála after permission was granted for a hotel and houses at Doonbeg Golf Course.

Mr McNamara wants gardaí to examine the dates of documents passed on by the council to An Bord Pleánala last June.

The Flood Tribunal is also examining a call to investigate planning permission granted to Doonbeg Golf Club Limited (DGCL) to build a 33-bedroom hotel and 48 holiday homes at the links course, which was designed by Greg Norman.

"After further investigation of the planning file in the Clare County Council office, I believe I have uncovered vital new information in relation to my request for leave to appeal," Mr McNamara said in a letter to An Bord Pleanála.

A spokesperson for An Bord Pleanála last night said it had received Mr McNamara's letter and its "contents are being considered".

A council spokesperson said Mr McNamara's complaint had already been dealt with.

"The council has no difficulty co-operating fully with any queries received in the context of any investigations that may be held," the spokesperson said.

Mr McNamara lodged an objection on May 9. However, this was outside the required five-week period and was invalid.

While the DGCL application was date-stamped April 16, 2002, the council insists it was received on April 4.

If the application was received on April 16, Mr McNamara's submission would have been valid.

Both the council and the company said they have receipts that prove the application was submitted on April 4.

Meanwhile, the club has initiated High Court proceedings against Doonbeg residents who travel across the fifth fairway of the course on their way to Doughmore beach to collect seaweed and periwinkles.

Doonbeg golf club chief executive Leonard Long said some people feel they have a right to drive tractors across the course.

Sinead Carroll of the Cahermore and Caherfeenick Action Group said the High Court action will be contested.

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