Mahon Report “a terrible indictment” – Ó Caoláin
Speaking in the Dáil debate on the Mahon Report, Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said it is a terrible indictment of the way politics was conducted. But he also pointed out that the abuses exposed by the Mahon Report have been succeeded by further abuses by developers, such as at Priory Hall, which are possible because of self-regulation.
“The report of the Mahon Tribunal is a terrible indictment of the way in which politics was conducted in this state for decades. A former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has been disgraced and has now resigned from the party that he led to repeated and record electoral successes. A former senior minister and EU commissioner, Pádraig Flynn, has been exposed as corrupt and has also left the party in which for many years he strutted the Irish and European stage.
“Councillors, lobbyists and developers have been shown to be deeply involved in corruption of the planning process and the political process.
The revelations about planning corruption in Co Dublin, especially by Fianna Fáil, but also involving Fine Gael, that we saw emerge over the past 15 years, have been confirmed. People are not surprised but they are no less appalled by what was done.
“I want to refute some of the assertions that have been made in commentary on this report. I reject the notion being peddled in certain quarters that somehow the Irish people in general and all of us in political life are to blame because we tolerated or turned a blind eye to corruption. That is false.
“When you survey the range and depth of the findings of this tribunal and the number of persons involved one of the first questions you ask is ‘Where were the gardaí?’
“The report does not mention the fact that aspects of planning and development laws and regulations have moved in a very negative and damaging direction. We had a regime which gave scope to corruption of elected representatives. We now have a regime which has allowed widespread abuses by developers.
“The most outstanding example is of course Priory Hall. The disgraceful developer McFeely and his Coalport company got away with building that apartment complex because of self-regulation. But he is just one of many, albeit the most extreme example.
“The very governments whose members are found to have been corrupt in this report were the same governments who brought in so-called light touch regulation for the construction industry. A citizen wishing to build an extension to his or her home must go through the full rigours of the planning laws but a developer can build houses and apartments for sale or rent to hundreds of people without any proper inspection regime in terms of construction standards and fire safety. It can all be done as a paper exercise with no on-site inspection by the local authority. That must change.”