Move to speed up Planning Tribunal

THE Government has moved to speed up the Planning Tribunal by allowing several hearings take place into different issues simultaneously.

Legislation published by Justice Minister Michael McDowell yesterday gives tribunal chairman Judge Alan Mahon the power to split up the workload between himself and tribunal team members Judges Mary Faherty and Gerald Keys.

The move would allow the three judges sit separately to hear different strands of the six-year-old inquiry at the same time instead of collectively presiding over the one hearing, which is the current practice.

At the current rate of hearing evidence, it is estimated the inquiry could run at least until the 2020. The minister said he hoped to have the change agreed by the Dáil before Christmas.

The provision is contained in the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Amendment Bill 2003.

Under the new legislation, Judge Mahon, and the other members of the tribunal, will be able to determine

applications based on evidence given to any of their predecessors.

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