Councillor denies any conflict of interest

Clare County Councillor Michael Begley has rejected claims there is a “conflict of interest” between his job as a planning consultant and his membership of the local planning authority.

The independent councillor has declared his involvement in his Clonlara-based Planning Consultancy and Planning Services in the latest council register of interests.

Mr Begley has insisted he doesn’t believe there is any “conflict of interest” between the two roles, as he makes a clear distinction between both of them.

“When I lodge a planning application for a client as an agent, I make no further contact with the council other than my work as an agent by responding to requests for further information and or revised plans.”

Mr Begley stressed that at no time would he ever seek or make a public representation on any planning file he was working as an agent.

Now in his seventh year as a planning consultant, he explained he was just trying to make a living, which was a “poor one” in recent years following the dramatic reduction in planning applications as a result of the construction slump.

Commenting on suggestions of a “perceived advantage” because of his role in the council, Mr Begley argued people should judge him on his record and stressed, like any agent, he had planning applications granted and refused.

His declaration has prompted mixed views amongst his council colleagues.

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