Former deputy chairman of An Bord Pleanála, Paul Hyde, was today sentenced to two months in jail, after he pleaded guilty to several charges regards to making false or misleading declarations of interest while holding a senior position in the State national planning appeals body.
Mr Hyde pleaded guilty to two of the nine summonses made against him but has already filed an appeal to the Crcuit Court and was released on bail.
In July last year, Mr Hyde resigned from his position as Deputy Chair, the second most senior position within the national independent appeals board. Despite being issued with nine summonses re false or misleading declarations of interest from 2014 to 2022, he pleaded guilty to two only of the nine counts,
The two-month jail sentence was imposed on each of the two charges and will be served concurrently.
On Tuesday last, he pleaded guilty to two of the nine counts against him, relating to false/misleading declarations of interest between 2014 and 2018, prior to his appointment as Deputy Chair of ABP.
Judge James McNulty accepted the two counts on a full facts basis, and today, the remaining seven charges were withdrawn earlier today.
Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien appointed Senior Counsel Remy Farrell to investigate allegations against Mr Hyde as ‘potential conflicts of interest’ which Mr Hyde denied strenuously. When the file was sent to the DPP, nine summonses were issued to the 50 year-old who resides in Cork.
Judge McCarthy stated it was a privilege and an honour to be appointed to the State’s highest appeals board in planning. But Mr Hyde had breached that privilege, and his responsibility to the board.
He failed in 2014 to declare his ownership of a small property at Pope’s Hill in Cork, and neither did he declare several properties outside of his main residence in Cork.
RTÉ revealed earlier that the latter properties were “in receivership at the time and Hyde had no control over them and was not benefitting from them” and Hyde appealed, stating he did not believe he had to declare these in 2018
But Judge McNulty said this was no excuse and “indicated that he was not prepared to dispose of the matter under the Probation of Offenders’ Act or without imposing a conviction” (RTÉ).
Many planning groups and residents association in Dublin have repeatedly called for planning appeals reviewed by Mr Hyde (above) and decisions made during his tenure with ABP to be reviewed and decisions held until a second review was held.
Members of Monkstown Abbey Road Residents Association and Bakers Corner Residents Association called on Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien “to suspend and re-examine all decisions signed by him.”
Following a controversial decision made in January 2022 to grant permission for high rise student apartments overlooking an old folk’s home at Baker’s Corner, Deansgrange, Marc Coleman, Chair of the Monkstown Abbey Road Residents Association at the time called for planning decisions made by him to be suspended and all should be re-examined.
Mr Coleman further noted: “Even Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (DLR) passed a vote of no confidence in APB; two nearby developments supported by the board in Sallynoggin and Monkstown Road were reversed as a result of local campaigning and judicial review, respectively.”
But it does beg the question: what happens now to developments approved by Mr Hyde during his tenure on the board and during his time as Deputy Chair?
See previous coverage: https://dublingazette.com/dublinlocalmatters/news/bord-pleanala-paulhyde-56423/
Feature photo: offices of An Bord Pleanála