Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
I received the report, entitled 'A Review Into Certain Planning Matters in Respect of Donegal County Council', by Mr. Rory Mulcahy S.C., on 11 June 2017.
Following initial analysis and assessment of the report's findings and recommendations, including interaction with my Department's own legal advisors and the Attorney General's Office, a comprehensive set of queries and a request for advice in relation to certain matters was submitted to the Attorney General. This included a request for advice regarding potential publication and dissemination of the report.
Taking account of the Attorney General's advice, my Department considered the matter further and prepared a submission for my consideration, including an assessment of the options available to me in terms publication or dissemination.
Developments adjacent to this subsequently raised fresh queries. I consulted my own legal advisers and the Attorney General's Office on these matters. I met with Senior Counsel in December 2018, and on 17th December 2018 further correspondence from Senior Counsel was received.
I signed the Order to commence the operation of the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) in April 2019. The creation of the OPR was a major recommendation of the Planning Tribunal. The OPR has an important role in reviewing local authorities' administration of their planning functions. My Department and other stakeholder bodies are currently working closely with the OPR in the development of their review functions. These significant ongoing developments in the planning area are providing a wider context for my considerations.
I am considering the report and the extensive legal advices received. Once I have concluded my deliberations, I will be in a position to make a further statement.