An Taisce branch 'thrown to the wolves' over planning objection

 

The Clare branch of An Taisce was "thrown to the wolves" by the organisation's Dublin-based head office during controversy over an application by journalist Fintan O'Toole to increase the size of his Co Clare holiday home, it was claimed yesterday.

The chairman of the Co Clare branch, Oliver Moylan, said the objection to Mr O'Toole's plans was written by an as yet unidentified local activist who called them "criminal".

He said the objection led to criticism of An Taisce in the Seanad and had been withdrawn by An Taisce's then director Gavin Harte, who unreservedly apologised to Mr O'Toole.

But in an interview yesterday Mr Moylan said the apology "should never have been issued from Dublin". He added: "we were virtually thrown to the wolves by Dublin. It was most unfair. All we got was abuse for it . . . We never, ever believed that the letter objecting to the O'Toole development would end up in the public domain," he said.

The objection was lodged at a time when Clare County Council had a policy that An Taisce submissions could not be viewed until after decisions were made. The rule changed while the O'Toole application was before the council and the objection became public.

Earlier this month, Mr O'Toole secured planning permission. He said yesterday he was living in China at the time of the debate and the apology from An Taisce was unsolicited.