Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson Niall Collins TD has responded to the sentencing of former Fine Gael Councillor Fred Forsey to 6 years for corruption.

Deputy Collins has called on Minister Phil Hogan to revisit his decision to close down a series of independent planning inquiries into local authorities.

Deputy Collins commented, “The approach taken by the judge in this case has exposed the fact that there are problems and it raises a serious question mark over the government’s attempt to abandon independent planning inquiries.

“The findings of the Minister’s internal civil service desktop exercise that there was no sign of malfeasance or corruption does not stand up when read beside yesterday’s sentence.  The fact that even Fine Gael councillors in Waterford are calling for an inquiry demonstrates how unsustainable Minister Hogan’s position on this issue is.

“Judge Gerard Griffin found that Mr Forsey had “gravely breached the trust of the Dungarvan electorate” with a crime on the “upper to mid-range on the corruption scale” and was on a par with the corruption that has occurred in the past.

“Condemning past misdeeds is easy.  The test of those involved in politics now will be what we do to make sure that this sort of corruption is not allowed to happen again.  For that reason, it is vital that the independent inquiries into planning irregularities in a series of local authorities, established by the last Government and cancelled by Minister Hogan, be reinstated.

“The recent whitewash report published by Government has now been thoroughly discredited.  The fact that the majority of councils affected by the proposed inquiry are controlled by Fine Gael and Labour should not be allowed to stand in the way of thorough and searching examination,” concluded Deputy Collins.