Objector asked developer for ‘more than €500,000’ to withdraw planning appeal

Labour leader Ivana Bacik claims issue was brought to attention of An Bord Pleanála but no action was taken

A developer was asked to pay more than €500,000 in exchange for the withdrawal of an appeal to An Bord Pleanála, Labour leader Ivana Bacik has told the Dáil.

Ms Bacik said she had seen evidence that the issue was brought to the attention of An Bord Pleanála months ago but that “no further action arose on it at the time”.

“Last night, I was alerted to a concerning, recent and ongoing case. I was shown evidence about a party who seeks to use the planning process to coerce the developer to pay more than half a million euros into an escrow account in exchange for the withdrawal of an appeal [to] An Bord Pleanála,” Ms Bacik told Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien on Thursday.

“The party also insisted on the use of a confidentiality clause to cover this up. Minister, this feels like a return to the bad old days and in the correspondence I received I saw evidence this was brought to the attention of An Bord Pleanála months ago but that no further action arose on it at the time.”


Mr O’Brien asked the Labour leader to bring the correspondence to him and his department. The Minister said he had written to the Attorney General and the Department of Justice in advance of an RTÉ Investigates programme earlier this week exposing alleged planning corruption.

Mr O’Brien said he found the programme “shocking” but said it was not completely surprising “because I have heard of cases”.

The Fianna Fáil TD also suggested that the situation described by Ms Bacik could be looked at under Section 17 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, or sections of the Fraud Offences Act.

The Labour leader said it was “vital” to crack down on planning corruption but said it seemed this was not happening.

“Those who exploit the planning system for personal gain are not only making a quick buck off developers, they’re also profiting at the expense of all those who want to move into a home of their own, but are locked out due to costs and due to delays because the actions of those who abuse the planning system increase the ultimate price for everyone,” she said.

Ms Bacik told the Minister that as legislators they had to “address abuses within the planning system”.

“We have to ensure that our planning system is not open to this source of abuse because where it impacts in particular on residential developments, it is people who lose out and it’s very serious,” she said.

The Dublin Bay South TD also called on Mr O’Brien to adopt a Labour Party amendment to the Planning and Development Bill, which is currently going through the Dáil, to make “this sort of behaviour” a stand-alone offence.

Mr O’Brien said the Planning and Development Bill was the most significant reform of planning legislation “probably ever”, running to 700 pages. He said any amendments tabled would be looked at very seriously and he agreed that the matter was “urgent”.

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Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times