Join Now
Cian O'Callaghan TD

The Farrell report must be published as quickly as possible

It is neither tenable nor appropriate for An Bord Pleanála to investigate itself in relation to allegations that are in the public domain but not included the Farrell report, according to Social Democrats Housing Spokesperson Cian O’Callaghan.

“I am very concerned that the Housing Minister is apparently happy for An Bord Pleanála to investigate itself in relation to allegations, that have been in the public domain for some time but were not included in the report conducted by senior counsel Remy Farrell.

“All allegations in the public domain need to be independently investigated. It is neither tenable nor appropriate for An Bord Pleanála to review itself in relation to several of the allegations that are in the public domain. It beggars belief that the Minister could be happy with this process. If public trust is to be restored in this important institution, then any inquiry must be fully independent.

“It is also notable that, even now, it is unclear what specific allegations were included in the Farrell report. There is no reason that this cannot be clarified today. This is necessary as, after the publication of the initial terms of reference of the investigation, further allegations came into the public domain and it is unclear how many, if any, of these were added to those terms.

“Questions also arise about the powers of the planning regulator, or lack thereof. The only responsibility of the regulator, in relation to An Bord Pleanála, is to conduct a review of its systems and procedures. Given the huge power that is invested in An Bord Pleanála, and its critical role in our planning system, questions must now be asked about the lack of oversight of the Board by any State watchdog.

“Finally, the role of this government, and previous governments, in undermining the capacity of An Bord Pleanála to do its work should not be excised from this debate. This whole sorry saga began with the decision of the former Fine Gael government to create Strategic Housing Developments which bypassed planning departments in local authorities and went to An Bord Pleanála for a first-instance decision. This was done without providing An Bord Pleanála the requisite resources for it to cope with this hugely increased workload.

“This government has now admitted the folly of that decision, by attempting to phase out SHDs in their entirety by December 2021. However, they have made a mess of this process – evidenced by the fact that applications for SHDs will still be received by An Bord Pleanála up to September and will be adjudicated on until 2023.

“This controversy has seriously undermined public confidence in the planning system. Full transparency, about every allegation that has come to light, is the only way to restore this. To that end, the Farrell report must be published as quickly as possible.”

16 August, 2022


Back to all Posts