Bord Pleanála official informs board of undeclared conflict of interest

Paul Hyde disclosure follows claims of impropriety over house co-owned by brother

An Bord Pleanála’s deputy chairman has told the organisation’s board of an undeclared conflict of interest in a planning decision he signed off in an appeal taken by his sister-in-law.

Paul Hyde notified the board this week as The Irish Times and other media questioned whether he recused himself from the 2021 case taken by Caroline Barron in relation to the house she co-owns with her husband Stefan Hyde – Paul’s brother – in Sandymount, Dublin 4.

The disclosure comes days after Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien asked Remy Farrell SC to examine claims of impropriety against Paul Hyde in relation to his personal declarations to An Bord Pleanála. He insists such allegations are groundless.

In response to questions, An Bord Pleanála on Friday released a May 2021 decision minute on an appeal about plans for the Gilford Park house. That minute said no conflict was identified when Mr Hyde and Michelle Fagan, another board member, signed off on permission with conditions for works including the demolition of sheds and an attic conversion.


Gilford Park house

Land Registry documents show that Stefan Hyde and Caroline Hyde – also known as Caroline Barron – are “full owners” of the Gilford Park house. Separately, they face the prospect of legal action by a neighbour who is unhappy with the extent of work done at the site.

Paul Hyde is understood to be arguing that no conflict was declared because he simply did not know the appeal was taken by a close family member or that it concerned his brother’s property.

The board record notes the development address at Gilford Park and the house number. Still, Mr Hyde is understood to say it is not An Bord Pleanála’s practice to identify applicants or the exact address when decisions of this nature are presented for sign-off.

Having told the board he became aware of the matter only in recent days, Mr Hyde asked that it be brought to Mr Farrell’s attention. “In that context, the chairperson has brought this to the attention of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage,” An Bord Pleanála said on Friday night.

Asked for An Bord Pleanála’s response to the disclosure, a spokesman said it was “being considered as above”. There was no further comment.

Questioned about the status of permission granted in light of an undeclared conflict of interest becoming known, An Bord Pleanála said: “At this point that is not a matter for the board as its decision has been made and its jurisdiction is spent.”

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times