Supermac’s agreed to cover costs of campaign in forgery row

Fast food firm disowns faked submissions backing its planned service area near Ennis

Pat McDonagh of Supermac’s. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Pat McDonagh of Supermac’s. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

 

Supermac’s, the fast food franchise behind a proposal to build a large motorway service station near Ennis, Co Clare, agreed to underwrite the cost of a campaign of submissions to the local authority in support of its plan.

Some 180 submissions were made to Clare County Council, each commanding a fee of €20, suggesting a total cost, which the company says it has not yet paid, of €3,600.

The acknowledgement was made in response to questions from The Irish Times after it emerged that many submissions were forged.

Asked if Supermac’s or its founder, Pat McDonagh, were “aware of any person professionally connected with the planning application being involved in the delivery of the 180 or so submissions”, a spokesman for the company responded: “We were offered support for our application by locals. Those offering the support appear to have decided that the support would be better expressed by individual observations on file. Up to that point we believed that the support was by way of a petition, where people would sign a single letter of support.

Refund

“It would appear that whoever organised the petition only realised later that there was a fee payable of €20 for each observation and Supermac’s was contacted and asked if the company would refund that fee.

“Believing at the time that the submissions would be fully legitimate, the company agreed to pay the local authority fee. No money has been paid by the company to date.”

The company said it was “horrified” to learn from the media “that this exercise was not conducted legitimately and disowns the actions taken and wants to distance itself completely from them”.

Of the 187 supposedly supportive submissions, 40 people contacted the council on receipt of acknowledgements to say that they had not made any submission and 14 have since made written withdrawals.