Donegal planning report due to be finished in weeks

Senior counsel expected to deliver report in middle of June

Declan Magee

Reporter:

Declan Magee

Donegal County Council passes 2017 budget with increased spending of €2.2m

The report of the review into allegations of planning irregularities in Donegal, some of which date back 20 years, is due to be delivered next month.
The probe was ordered in February 2015 and is looking at allegations made by Gerard Convie , a former senior planner with Donegal County Council who has made claims of alleged planning corruption in the county.
Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Simon Coveney, TD, told the Dáil that the report by the senior counsel who is carrying out “an ongoing independent scoping review” is due to be submitted in the middle of June.
The review was ordered by Minister Coveney’s predecessor, Alan Kelly, who appointed the senior counsel in February 2015.
A departmental report in 2012 found that there was no evidence to back up Mr Convie’s claims. That report was overturned in June 2014 after Mr Convie took High Court action against the department. The report was withdrawn and the Department of the Environment apologised and paid him €25,000 compensation.Under the settlement the department acknowledged the “sincerely held concerns” of Mr Convie in relation to planning matters in Donegal and regretted any adverse comment on his motivation and any negative impact on his good name, professional integrity or reputation.
In 2010 a review into bad practice in seven local authorities, including Donegal, was ordered by former Environment Minister John Gormley.
But that review was stopped after the Fianna Fáil/Green Party government was removed from power.
Minister Coveney made the comments about the release of the report following a question from Sinn Féin spokesperson on housing, planning and local government, Deputy Eoin Ó Broin.
Deputy Ó Broin told the Donegal Democrat that the delay in the report was unacceptable and such serious issues need to be dealt with thoroughly and in a timely fashion.
“Part of the problem is that if anyone has concerns about planning regulations, the only thing they can do is make a formal complaint to the department and request an investigation,” he said.
“What all of us want to see is that there is a thorough and speedy investigation, and if it reveals malpractice, negligence or corruption we want to know what is going to be done about it.”