Woman who objected to rival fast-food outlet works for Supermac’s

LinkedIn page saying woman worked for 12½ years at Supermac’s deleted after questions

Supermac’s outlet on Eyre Square, Galway city. File photograph: Google Street View

Supermac’s outlet on Eyre Square, Galway city. File photograph: Google Street View

 

A woman who wrote a letter objecting to a planned fast food outlet at Eyre Square in Galway city which would compete with a nearby Supermac’s is a long-standing employee of the company and a former personal assistant to its founder, Pat McDonagh.

The woman, Aisling O’Doherty, who referred to herself in her September 3rd, 2012 letter to Galway City Council planning department as “a resident at No 24 Eyre Square Townhouses”, has been working for Supermac’s for more than 12 years and is married to a senior member of its management team.

Contacted yesterday by The Irish Times, a woman who answered Ms O’Doherty’s phone did not say whether she was Ms O’Doherty but said she would pass a message to Ms O’Doherty.

Ms O’Doherty did not return the call but at about the same time, her LinkedIn business profile was deleted.

In it, Ms O’Doherty had identified her current employment as working at “purchasing” for Supermac’s for the past 12½ years.

Also, according to the deleted LinkedIn profile, from April 2006 to February 2009, Ms O’Doherty said she was simultaneously PA (personal assistant) to Supermac’s chief executive, Mr McDonagh.

Not answered

Questions submitted to Pat McDonagh’s public relations manager, who also works for Supermac’s, by email and text, including a follow-up phone call and voicemail message, were not answered.

Ms O’Doherty is a long-time resident of Loughrea, Co Galway.

The address in her 2012 letter, objecting to planning permission being given to Hillbillys, a fast food outlet sought for No 30 Eyre Square, is a townhouse.

The townhouse property is owned by Mr McDonagh, as are several other dwellings in the development.

A private investigator working for Hillbillys restaurant investigated Ms O’Doherty’s claim to reside at 24 Eyre Square Townhouses in February 2013. They reported calling there and being met by a Tony O’Brien who said “Aisling O’Doherty was not living at the address and that he has been living there since September 2012”.

The private investigator’s report added: “He said that he did not know nor did he have a forwarding address for Aishling [sic] O’Doherty.”

Interest in the Hilbillys/Supermac’s planning dispute (the rival restaurant eventually won planning permission but the site is now occupied by a branch of the Caffè Nero group) comes in the wake of controversy over forged letters of support allegedly written to back Mr McDonagh’s plans for a large-scale motorway service area off the M18 near Ennis in Co Clare and submitted for his planning application.

Mr McDonagh has said he had nothing to do with the Ennis letters, which came mostly from the Clarecastle area, and had denounced the forging of signatures as “illegal”. He has admitted, however, that Supermac’s agreed to pay the €20 submission fee for each of some 180 letters.

They were delivered in bulk to the council offices by Howard Williams, an environmental consultant retained by Mr McDonagh in support of the Ennis planning application.

In response to recent disclosures about the Ennis letters, objectors to the motorway service area plan, which include long-established town-centre hotels and retail outlets, have raised the spectre of the application being subjected to judicial review.

Twenty-two of the alleged declarations of support for Mr McDonagh’s plan have now been withdrawn

In a letter to the council’s senior planner Brian McCarthy, P Coleman & Associates, planning consultants for the objectors, ask whether the council was satisfied that letters that have not been withdrawn, and therefore remain to be considered with the application, are in fact valid.

“Our clients are seeking to ensure that the planning authority are fully satisfied that the planning process associated with this planning application has not been compromised in any way,” says the letter.

“In particular,” it continues, “our clients are seeking to ensure that the planning authority are fully satisfied that the letters of support for the proposed development which have not been formally withdrawn and which remain on the planning file are valid letters of support from bona fide supporters with their correct names and addresses.”

Twenty-two of the alleged declarations of support for Mr McDonagh’s plan have now been withdrawn, suggesting up to 150 remain as submitted – both genuine correspondence and fake.

The Coleman letter concludes that “if this application is ever subject to a judicial review that the planning application process would not be deemed to have been compromised in any way”.

The Ennis planning application is due to be decided by the council on September 4th.