Standards in Public Office chairman hits back at council over county manager’s report

The chairperson of the Standards in Public Office Commission last week hit back at the report of county manager Peter Hynes into its investigation of a complaint made against a member of staff in the council. In a letter sent to Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Phil Hogan, Mr Justice Matthew P Smith, chairman of the commission, said: “In his report, Mr Hynes would appear to misapprehend the position of the Standards in Public Office Commission and the findings and determinations made in the investigation report.”

Justice Smith also took task with the interpretation by Mr Hynes in his report that the internal investigation by the council produced the same findings as the SIPO investigation. In his letter he stated, “Mr Hynes appears to be labouring under a misapprehension as to the Standards Commission's findings and determinations; they were not ‘essentially the same’ as the conclusion of the inquiry commissioned by the council itself and conducted by a former assistant county manager of Mayo County Council.”

Mr Justice Smith in his letter also said that the findings of the commission were not properly reflected in Mr Hynes’ report. “The council's investigation did not find that Mr Lynn had failed to disclose any interests. By contrast, the Standards Commission concluded that he had failed to do so on four occasions. In relation to the fifth contravention, the council's investigation found that while Mr Lynn had not acted in accordance with the code of conduct for employees, it did not find any evidence of financial gain for Mr Lynn. The Standards Commission not only found a failure to have regard to the code, but also found that Mr Lynn contravened section 168 of the Local Government Act 2001 by using his official position in Mayo County Council, and the resources of the council, for personal gain in that works were carried out to improve an access to his lands at Cushalogurt, Westport, County Mayo. The report states that the Commission is satisfied that the contravention was committed intentionally and was, in all the circumstances, a serious matter. This finding is not properly reflected in Mr Hynes' report.”



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