Friday 17 November 2017

Files on Anne Street building to be released

The site at Anne Street: 'serious questions' says Deputy Joe Higgins.
The site at Anne Street: 'serious questions' says Deputy Joe Higgins.

ALL council files pertaining to the assembling of the site on which the Department of Social Protection and Revenue Commissioners now stands on Anne Street, are to be made freely available to councillors, who can investigate the matter.

Deputy Joe Higgins said in the Dáil last month that 'serious unanswered questions' must be answered on the matter. He called on the Minister for the Environment to establish a commission of investigation into the involvement of public bodies in 'anomalies surrounding the assembling of this site' in Anne Street. The irregularities, he said, had had a 'serious detrimental effect on the lives of innocent individuals' and were an 'injustice to them and their human rights'.

Cllr Wadding said the questions implicated Wexford County Council in these 'irregularities'. She called on the local authority to facilitate the release of all files and material pertaining to the matter to each council member and to facilitate an independent, transparent investigation, in the interests of the integrity of the council.

County Manager Tom Enright said he was not aware of the specific issues Cllr Wadding wanted to raise, adding that he was happy to 'explore' any issue. He said an independent investigation was not in the remit of the local authority. 'I am not sure what specific issue you want investigated. Look at the files and if there is any issue after you have gone through them you are welcome to do so.'

Cllr Wadding said it was very difficult for her to be specific in the chamber. She said she welcomed Mr Enright's cooperation.

'This issue has been brought to me by some constituents.'

Director of Services Tony Larkin said: 'There has been a slur on the integrity of Wexford County Council and we are saying we have nothing to hide. We will deal with this in the most open and transparent way.'

Mr Enright said he has not seen the file which was produced for Cllr Wadding, adding that any member of the public can contact the council with information. Mr Larkin said the council files on Anne Street, which were previously with Wexford Borough Council, will be made available to any councillor.'

Mr Larkin said the case was a very complex land case involving land swaps. He said there is information in existence which would not normally be available through Freedom of Information requests.

He said: 'I am not sure we can open files with multiple third parties who are not involved. For any individual case where the interests of their own are in question I am happy to release the documents.'

Mr Enright said: 'We have to act in the interests of the law and in the best interests of the public.'

Cllr Wadding said some people were 'fobbed off' for a number of years when they sought information on the case.

Mr Larkin said under parliamentary privilege TDs can say what they like. 'There is a suggestion of corruption. It's now in the public domain and has appeared in the local newspapers and I am keen that we would be transparent.'

He said he was happy for councillors to coordinate themselves, adding that he will meet them. Chairman Tony Dempsey said he has a right to protect former officials and councillors.

Cllr Oisin O'Connell said a cross party group from the Wexford district could take the lead on the matter.

Wexford People

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