Junior minister Niall Collins has staunchly defended himself against allegations of breaking planning laws when building his home in Limerick 22 years ago.
The Fianna Fáil TD was given special time in the Dáil on Thursday evening to address media reports published earlier this week saying that he “lied” on his planning application in 2001.
Mr Collins said the reports were “entirely factually incorrect and invalid.”
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The Limerick native said that the house he built on his family’s land met the criteria and planning conditions, including he being the son of a longterm landholder, and that he had lived on the land pre-1990.
He further said that the planning laws it was alleged he broke only came into existence in 2004, three years after he submitted his original planning application in 2001.
And he claimed that he was unaware that a planning application ad in the Limerick Leader on April 28th 2001 had his name printed as Niall O’Connor.
He said that the first time he became aware of that was this week when it was published in the online publication, theditch.
Mr Collins insisted that all of the paperwork he submitted had his correct name at all times and that he had double-checked this in the offices of Limerick County Council this week.
He told the Dáil: “I am entirely satisfied that my planning application 23 years ago for my family home met the correct planning criteria and was correctly adjudicated on.”
Mr Collins had already received the backing of the leaders of all three coalition parties, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens.
Spokespeople for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil’s Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan had all expressed “full confidence” in Junior Minister Niall Collins earlier this week.
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