Former planning board official Paul Hyde to face prosecution – The Irish Times

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has launched a criminal prosecution against former An Bord Pleanála (ABP) deputy chairman Paul Hyde following a Garda investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior in the planning appeals authority.

Three sources familiar with the case said the prosecution was launched at Dublin District Court in recent days. Sir. Hyde, who has always denied any wrongdoing, faces charges under the Planning and Development Act in relation to allegations he gave false information to ABP.

He resigned in July during a senior counsel’s inquiry for Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien into allegations of impropriety in his legal statements to ABP and allegations that he was conflicted in some planning matters.

Sir. O’Brien later sent the 120-page report by Remy Farrell SC to the DPP, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and the Standards in Public Office Commission. On the advice of the DPP, the Farrell report remains unpublished.

Gardaí submitted a case last month to the DPP following an investigation by the Economic Crimes Bureau, formerly known as the Fraud Investigation Bureau. When asked about the case against Mr Hyde, Director of Public Prosecutions Catherine Pierse said: “Please note that the DPP’s office does not comment on individual cases.”

An Garda Síochána said: “An Garda Síochána does not comment on named individuals.”

There was no comment from Mr Hyde (49), who has an address in Co Cork. The charges relate to the period between 2014 and earlier this year, when he sat on the ABP board, first as an ordinary member and later as deputy chairman.

The then Environment Minister Phil Hogan appointed Mr Hyde to the board in 2014. He became deputy chairman in January 2019. Secretary of State Simon Coveney appointed Mr Hyde, a trained architect, to the board of the Irish Marine Institute in 2012 when he had ministerial responsibility for such matters.

ABP chairman Dave Walsh recommended Mr Hyde’s appointment as deputy chairman to the then housing minister, Eoghan Murphy. In addition to duties as deputy chairman, Mr Hyde chaired the ABP department handling special fast-track planning applications for large housing developments.

Sir. Hyde has never spoken publicly about the allegations against him, which first surfaced in reporting by The Ditch, an online news outlet.

Facing sharp questions this spring about alleged conflicts of interest in major planning decisions, he insisted for weeks that everything was fine in his legal submissions to the ABP.

Sir. O’Brien last week published a Cabinet-approved master plan to overhaul the ABP. Among the proposed measures were an enlarged board, a new board appointment regime and plans to strengthen oversight of potential conflicts of interest. A separate report to the Planning Authority’s office on ABP saw expert reviewers call for “urgent reform” of the organisation.

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