An Taisce has welcomed the publication of the Mahon Tribunal Report which has exposed the endemic corruption at the heart of the Irish Planning System while endorsing the Tribunals recommendation of a planning regulator.
The catalyst for the setting up of the Tribunal was the placement in 1995 by Michael Smith, former Chairman of An Taisce, of an anonymous advertisement in the Irish Times through a firm of Newry Solicitors offering a reward of IR£10,000 for information on land rezoning corruption that would lead to a conviction. This action exposed a chain of corruption which reached into the highest level of Government. An Taisce once more calls for the setting up of an Independent Planning Regulator. This is supported by the Tribunal’s recommendations of a number of important changes to the Irish planning system including the establishment of an independent Planning Regulator who is free from political influence and has the power to undertake independent inquiries into the planning functions of local authorities.
In light of the Tribunal’s findings the decision by the current Minister of the Environment, Phil Hogan T.D, not to proceed with the independent planning inquiry initiated by the previous Government into the considerable evidence of malpractice within local authorities is a retrograde step.
“It is now clear that there was a catastrophic and systemic failure of the planning system and proper planning was entirely abandoned. One of the first actions of the Independent Regulator should be to initiate a time-limited investigation with strict terms of reference to examine the endemic clientelism, cronyism and corruption that pervaded the entire Irish planning system throughout the ‘Celtic Tiger’ era.” said a spokesperson for An Taisce.