An Bord Pleanála: Reports behind planning body turmoil

After numerous investigations, examinations and reviews for assorted authorities, only one report has thus far been published

The turmoil at An Bord Pleanála has spawned a series of investigations, examinations and reviews for assorted authorities. So far, just one report has been published.

  • Remy Farrell SC was appointed in April by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien to examine allegations made about Paul Hyde. Mr Farrell delivered his report in July. In August, it was sent to the Garda, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Standards in Public Office Commission. It remains unpublished.
  • Farrell’s report prompted a Garda investigation into Hyde’s conduct. The Garda submitted a file to the DPP in September, leading the DPP to initiate a prosecution against Hyde in Dublin District Court. As is the norm in such cases, the Garda file has not been published.
  • An Bord Pleanála initiated an internal “fact-finding examination” of Hyde’s planning decisions and other matters in April. Three senior officials delivered their report last week to Dave Walsh, An Bord Pleanála’s chairman. Walsh has said the review “did not involve any cross-checking or consultation with individuals or parts of the organisation concerned”. In light of legal advice to the chairman, the October report from the internal review remains unpublished.
  • Walsh, the chairman, commissioned Resolve Ireland, a consultancy, to carry out an “independent external investigation” into allegations made against An Bord Pleanála’s director of planning, Rachel Kenny. The Resolve Ireland report remains unpublished. But Walsh has said Kenny was found to have “no case to answer” in relation to claims of a conflict of interest in certain decisions. The report also cleared her of any breaches of the body’s code of conduct, Walsh said.
  • The Office of the Planning Regulator initiated a formal review of An Bord Pleanála’s systems and procedures in August, after deciding in June to bring forward work that was originally scheduled to be done next year. The conclusions from the first phase of this review by Conleth Bradley SC and Scottish planning experts Paul Cackette and John McNairney were published in early October, making it the first and only formal report to be published since the controversy erupted. The report for the regulator said An Bord Pleanála needs “urgent reform” in order to repair its public standing.
  • A second report from the regulator’s review is scheduled to be finalised by the end of November, with a draft due on November 14th.
Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times