Fianna Fáil Cllr. And candidate for Dublin North West Paul McAuliffe has accused An Taoiseach and his government of hypocrisy after he admitted making private representations on behalf of Donald Trump over a wind farm application in the same week that his government issued a circular seeking to ban councillors from discussing planning applications.

“What he has done is simply incredible.  With the eyes of the world watching, Mr. Varadkar has made a craven attempt to pretend that planning is in the gift of politicians. What’s even more astounding is that he made the remarks only days after his Cabinet colleague Minister Eoghan Murphy issued a circular to all Local Authorities which banned Councillors and officials from discussing planning applications at area council meetings”, explained Cllr. McAuliffe.

“The circular states that discussing such applications ‘could convey an erroneous impression to the public of the role of elected members in the statutory process for deciding on planning applications. Having regard to the foregoing, Part 3 planning applications should not be discussed at Municipal District/Area Committee and/or Council meetings prior to the making of decisions on them and the participation of local authority officials in any such discussions is not appropriate in the circumstances.’

“This circular has caused anger amongst Councillors who are now accusing the Minister of trying to interfere in local democracy by preventing local authority staff from assisting Councillors and communities from understanding the technical details of large planning applications.

“This isn’t about conveying erroneous impressions to the public, it’s about letting Councillors carry out their role and assisting communities to participate in the planning process”, said Cllr. McAuliffe.

Dublin City Councillors have convened a special meeting to discuss the circular – it will take place in City Hall next Wednesday, 21st March.