Councillor's property stake and vote to be investigated

 

THE STANDARDS in Public Office Commission is to investigate alleged contraventions of the ethical framework for the local government service by Labour Dublin city councillor Oisín Quinn.

The complaint against Mr Quinn relates to his participation in votes on the draft Dublin City Council’s development plan while he had an interest in a property in the city. The property, which Mr Quinn has declared in his annual declaration of interests, is 84-93 Lower Mount Street, the majority of which is occupied by the Revenue Commissioners. Mr Quinn continues to have a one-sixth interest in the property.

A public sitting of the commission will be held next Monday to investigate the complaint submitted by Michael Smith, editor of Village magazine and formerly of An Taisce, and Independent councillor Cieran Perry. They wrote to the commission on November 23rd, 2010.

According to the commission, the investigation will take place under the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001 (the Ethics Acts) and part 15 of the Local Government Act 2001. Mr Quinn said the same complaint had previously been made to the council’s ethics registrar and had been rejected.

“I believe I behaved with exemplary care and transparency,” Mr Quinn, a nephew of Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn, said.

“I believe I followed not just the letter but also the spirit of the ethical framework. I took advice by asking the city manager, senior city planners and the city law agent for their view and, importantly, I followed their advice and did it transparently by putting it on the record at the start of the meeting.”

The complaint from Mr Smith and Mr Perry states Mr Quinn had an interest in the “substantial and valuable” property and acknowledges that he has disclosed this to the council in writing as required.

The complainants argue that Mr Quinn should have refrained from voting on matters relating to the development plan.

They argue that he breached the ethics provisions of the Local Government Act 2001 and the associated code of conduct for councillors on a number of grounds, one of which was “through his speaking persuasively to, and voting for, other resolutions in . . . July 2010 which would have allowed increases in heights across the inner city including for his own property on Lower Mount Street”.

The complaint continues: “His disclosure before the 2010 meeting was not accompanied by his leaving the chamber and refraining from voting.”

The council’s ethics registrar previously told Mr Smith and Mr Perry: “I am satisfied that there has been no breach of the ethics framework contained in the Local Government Act 2001 and the code of conduct for councillors.”