O’Donoghue pleads guilty to ethics breach

12 Mar

The Fianna Fáil mayor of Killarney, Co Kerry has pleaded guilty at the Circuit Criminal Court to a breach of ethics over a move to rezone 20 acres of land around his family’s hotels.

It is the first prosecution of its kind.

Cllr Patrick O’Donoghue, who is also a Director of the Stated bodies Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland was charged with seeking to influence the council’s decision to rezone his family’s land on the outskirts of Killarney as a ‘town centre’.

The Standards in Public Office Commission carried out an investigation into the allegations in 2007 and referred its findings to the Director of Public Prosecutions. On 6 March, 2006, a motion came before Killarney Town Council seeking to re-zone 20 acres of Mr O’Donoghue’s family lands surrounding the Gleneagle and Brehon Hotels in Killarney.

The motion sought to confer town centre status on the lands, which are around a mile from the centre of Killarney and are on the urban/rural divide. Mr O’Donoghue attended the Council meeting, declared his interests, didn’t take part in the debate on the motion and abstained when it was voted on.

The motion was passed by a majority of councillors, even though it was vigorously opposed by Council management. However, the Standards in Public Office Commission subsequently conducted an investigation and said it was satisfied that Mr O’Donoghue had breached ethics by seeking the support of councillors on the re-zoning motion.

Mr O’Donoghue was charged following a garda investigation, and at the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee this afternoon he pleaded guilty to seeking to influence Killarney Town Council in the re-zoning of 20 acres of his family’s lands. Mr O’Donoghue is the first councillor in the country to be prosecuted under the Ethical Framework of the local Government Act. He will be sentenced on 30 June next.

via RTÉ News

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