Review of ruling on standards sought

Tue, Jul 3, 2012, 01:00

DUBLIN CITY Council is seeking a judicial review of findings made by the Standards in Public Office Commission against Labour councillor Oisín Quinn.

The commission last February found Mr Quinn had contravened the Local Government Act, 2001.

The commission handed down its ruling after a complaint brought by Independent councillor Ciaran Perry and environmental campaigner Michael Smith.

The complaint centred on a claim that Mr Quinn had contravened the Act by voting on the Dublin City Development Plan 2011-2017 while he and other members of his family owned property on Lower Mount Street.

The commission found Mr Quinn had committed the contraventions inadvertently, that they were “minor in nature” and that Mr Quinn had acted in good faith.

However, the council has determined the commission’s findings could make the drafting and passing of a development plan “completely unworkable”, not just for the city council but for all local authorities.

It was not clear in the commission’s report in what circumstances a “beneficial interest” could potentially influence a councillor so as to give rise to a conflict of interest, the council said. The commission had “refused” to adequately explain how it reached its conclusions.

The matter was of “considerable gravity” for individual councillors, as failure to comply with the Act was a criminal offence.

“The ruling clearly causes practical difficulties in relation to the manner in which the elected members discharge their reserved functions, and it is in the council’s view imperative in the public interest that these uncertainties be clarified,” the council said.

Following legal advice, the council has decided to seek a judicial review. It said it will require the court to clarify whether the commission is obliged to furnish findings of fact and/or reasons for making its decisions.

Mr Quinn is to join the council as a co-applicant in seeking the review. The case is due to go before the courts next October.