asked the Minister for Local Government if he is aware of defamatory comments reported to have been made upon the residents of Ballyfermot during a public planning appeal heard in Dublin on Thursday, 8th May; if he has drawn up any rules of procedure relating to the conduct of such appeals; and if the officer conducting the appeal has power to curb this type of comment.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Planning Appeal Comments.
I understand that a statement reflecting upon the conduct of the residents of Ballyfermot was made in the course of his evidence by a representative for the developers at an oral hearing of an appeal under the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963, on the 8th instant. Exception was taken to the statement by both the representative of the planning authority and the inspector. I consider that the statement was completely unjustified and ill-considered and that it should not have been made.
As regards the second part of the question, the procedure at oral hearings is covered by regulations which I have made under the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963, and which give the inspector discretion as to the manner in which hearings should be conducted. It would be the aim of inspectors to discourage and rule out of order statements or lines of argument which, in effect, disparage unrepresented persons or communities.
Would the Minister bear in mind the positively scandalous remarks made by the individual in question on the occasion referred to if he has occasion—which is unlikely— to consider a planning appeal in regard to this matter? I say that it is unlikely in view of the imminent death of this House and the departure of the Minister for Local Government from office.
As I said, I am aware of this regrettable and completely unjustified statement but in considering a planning appeal I am obliged to take into account only planning considerations.