Independent Castlebar based county councillor Frank Durcan this week called for county manager Peter Hynes to step down from his position. Cllr Durcan made his call at the April meeting of the council this week. Mr Hynes was giving a report on the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO ) investigation into the complaints made by Roger McGreal against Kieran Lynn, senior executive engineer with Mayo County Council.
In his report Mr Hynes outlined the background to the investigation by SIPO, recent court proceedings, and the internal investigation and disciplinary measures carried out by Mayo County Council.
In his report Mr Hynes stated: “A contravention of section 168 of the Local Government Act 2001 and a breach of the Code of Conduct for employees is a matter for internal disciplinary procedures. I am satisfied that the proper procedures were followed in this instance and that no further action is required.” Mr Hynes also issued a new directive to all staff in the council to avoid any future similar incidents.
“I put it to you Manager having supported Mr Lynn in his planning application and as his superior as director of services for the Westport Area at the time of the misdemeanour that you showed in no uncertain manner that cronyism and corruption within this planning authority is alive and well and leaves a lot to be desired,” Cllr Durcan said. “I further put it to you, that you were grossly negligent and you fundamentally failed to uphold the sprit of the various planning and development acts and Mayo County Development plans as adopted by this council and the people of Mayo and, as a such a person associated with these misdemeanours, I must now demand you step down from your position of county manager and that this council resolve that the whole matter be referred to the appropriate authority to arrange the setting up of a Garda or judicial enquiry into this whole sordid affair brought about by public officials in the highest echelons of this local authority.”
Cllr Durcan also told the meeting that in his role as director of services for the Westport area, Mr Hynes removed the residency clause from the planning permission which is the norm for one off houses in rural areas in the case in question.
Mr Hynes hit back at Cllr Durcan telling the meeting: “Cllr Durcan referred to my involvement in the granting of planning permission for lands that had been enhanced with public monies. I never have and never will be involved in that. It will be corrected now or at a later date. There is no mention of corruption in any of the reports, just from Cllr Durcan. We have always striven to keep the highest possible standards in office. I do hope that the directive issued to the staff will be followed into the future.” When contacted by the Mayo Advertiser on Wednesday of this week in relation to Cllr Durcan’s charge over the residency clause in the application in question, Mr Hynes told the Mayo Advertiser. “No comment, all the planning files that I dealt with in my nine to 10 years as director of services are there on public record and can be viewed by anyone and I thoroughly reject any allegation of corruption.”
The directive issued by Mr Hynes, dated April 11, outlines that no staff member or any person on his/her behalf should request an elected member of Mayo County Council to allocate money under the Notice of Motion scheme, Councillors’ Special Allocation scheme, Councillors’ Community Fund or Local Improvement Scheme, in respect of any lands in which they have an interest or which are the subject of the project. If a staff member has an interest in any land which becomes the subject of a proposal in relation to any of these schemes, he/she must notify his/her direct supervisor and the relevant director of services in writing of such interest. Staff members must also have no role in the proceedings other than as the landowner