The deputy chair of An Bord Pleanála was one of just two people, out of 15 nominations, to be appointed to the planning body’s board in 2014, despite having been nominated by a defunct organisation.
Paul Hyde was appointed to the board in May of 2014 alongside Philip Jones, a former chief planner for Waterford and Kildare County Councils and long-time ABP employee who retired from the body in August 2020.
All told, nine separate organisations put forward nominations in 2013 for consideration by then-Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, according to new information released to Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien.
Mr Hyde was the sole nominee put forward for elevation to the board by the Irish Rural Dwellers Association (IRDA) at the time. It has now emerged that the IRDA, a body first set up in 2002 essentially to oppose planning restrictions for one-off home builds, was in fact dissolved in 2012.
The various nominations came from two separate panels of bodies covering local government, trade unions, and farming on the one hand and the environment, charities, voluntary organisations, those living with disabilities, and the young on the other. Mr Hyde’s nomination came from the latter panel.
The Office for Local Authority Management (OLAM), the Association of County and City Councils, and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions nominated two people each. As those nominees were unsuccessful, their names have not been revealed by the Minister.
One of the OLAM nominees subsequently withdrew from the process. Mr Jones was nominated along with one other person by two separate bodies, one from either panel, they being the Local Authority Members Association and the National Disability Authority.
Elsewhere, the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland and the National Women’s Council of Ireland nominated one person each, with the Heritage Council nominating two.
Mr Hyde is currently the subject of multiple investigations into his decision-making at ABP and has stepped aside from his role as deputy chair “without prejudice” until those probes are completed.
His decisions first became the subject of scrutiny last April after it emerged that he had not declared the part-ownership of a property located in close proximity to a strategic housing development (SHD) in Cork city which he had voted to refuse.
Three of the IRDA’s former board members have recently stated that they had no knowledge of any nomination process in place for him. Mr Hyde had no known association with the body.