November 27, 2022

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An investigation into alleged conflict of interest at An Bord Pleanála will press ahead after the authority’s deputy chairman resigned, the Government has pledged.

Paul Hyde, the second highest official in the planning appeals authority, tendered his resignation to Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien on Friday in advance of a number of inquiries into allegations of conflict of interest.

The investigation centres on claims that Mr Hyde was conflicted in some planning decisions as well as his personal property investments, his debts and his statutory declarations to the planning appeals body.

In May, Mr O’Brien appointed senior counsel Remy Farrell to investigate the allegations. The six-week investigation was due to conclude at the end of June but was extended by another five weeks.

On Saturday, a spokesman for the Department of Housing told The Irish Times that “nothing has changed” in relation to the planned completion of the report and its publication.

It is expected to be completed by July 29th. The spokesman said Minister O’Brien would not be commenting any further on Mr Hyde’s resignation other than to say “it was received and accepted.”

Mr Hyde denied any impropriety but had previously stood aside temporarily “without prejudice” from his role pending Mr Farrell’s report. An internal review of cases over which Mr Hyde presided is also being conducted by the planning board.

Mr Hyde was appointed to the board in 2014, having previously served as a member of the Marine Institute.

He was promoted to deputy chair of the board and appointed chair of the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) subcommittee in 2019.

Mr Farrell was to review three specific planning decisions, including a case where ABP refused permission in March for a fast-track apartment scheme in Blackpool, Cork, on a site near property owned by a company in which Mr Hyde had a quarter share.

Mr Hyde’s stake in the company — controlled by his father Stephen Hyde — was never set out in his declarations of interest to ABP but he insisted it there was no need to because the company was dormant and not in effect carrying on any trade even though it owned property near the site of a proposed development.

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