Wednesday, 20th June 2012
Waterford’s Independent TD John Halligan has called for an independent inquiry into the rezoning of land at Ballygagin, Co Waterford which led to the conviction of a former Fine Gael Town Councillor on corruption charges.
Deputy Halligan was speaking in the Dail on a Fianna Fail motion on the Government’s decision not to proceed with an investigation into seven county and city councils which had been instigated by the previous coalition.
The termination of these investigations directly contradicted one of the principle recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal that an independent planning regulator free from political pressure be set up, Deputy Halligan told the Dail. “There would be blue murder in the House if this had occurred while the Labour Party was in opposition”, he added.
"I have absolutely no doubt that planning irregularities in other local authority areas not covered in the original inquiries have been buried and glossed over. An Taisce has identified massive flaws in various elements of planning policy and implementation within 34 city and county councils. Does its report not warrant investigation?
"By refusing to reverse the decision to downgrade the investigations, the Government is leaving itself wide open to accusations that it is seeking to reduce autonomy, openness and transparency in our planning system."
Deputy Halligan said he had been inundated with calls from constituents and local councillors who believe a probe should be launched into the Waterford rezoning controversy.
"This Government was elected on the promise that it would tackle head-on the severe shortcomings of our system of governance. Downgrading an independent review sends a clear message that this mandate is not being pursued", Deputy Halligan concluded.
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