No ba­sis found to sus­tain al­le­ga­tions by De Búrca


Bray People - - Bray People -

THE STAN­DARDS in Pub­lic Of­fice Com­mis­sion has found no ba­sis to sus­tain al­le­ga­tions made by Se­na­tor Deirdre de Búrca about Deputy Billy Tim­mins, his brother Cllr. Ed­ward Tim­mins, and his par­lia­men­tary sec­re­tary, Cllr. Vin­cent Blake.

It has also ruled that a con­flict of ev­i­dence which arose when fol­low­ing up a sub­se­quent com­plaint by Cllrs. Tim­mins and Blake about Se­na­tor de Búrca meant that the is­sue could not be re­solved, and ac­cord­ingly was without a ba­sis on which a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion could be based.

The Com­mis­sion’s re­cent­ly­pub­lished re­port for 2007 tells how two let­ters were re­ceived from the County Man­ager and the Cathaoir­leach of the County Coun­cil con­cern­ing com­plaints made to the Coun­cil’s Ethics Reg­is­trar about al­leged con­tra­ven­tions of the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act by serv­ing and for­mer coun­cil­lors.

For­mer Coun­cil­lor and now Se­na­tor de Búrca had com­plained about the al­leged fail- ure by Cllr. Ed­ward Tim­mins and Deputy Billy Tim­mins to dis­close an in­ter­est in fam­i­ly­owned land at Bawnogue, near Balt­in­glass, and about Cllr. Blake’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in a land dis­posal is­sue at a County Coun­cil meet­ing in Jan­uary 2007, re­gard­ing a dis­posal no­tice of the Coun­cil’s in­ter­est in 375 square me­tres of land to a num­ber of peo­ple in­clud­ing Deputy Tim­mins. The com­plaint re­ferred to Cllr. Blake’s al­leged fail­ure to dis­close the in­ter­est of his em­ploy­ment as Par­lia­men­tary As­sis­tant to Deputy Tim­mins, and his fail­ure to ex­cuse him­self from the meet­ing when the vote was be­ing taken.

Mean­while, Cllrs Tim­mins and Blake com­plained about Se­na­tor de Búrca. Th­ese com­plaints con­cerned a fail­ure to make dec­la­ra­tions for the pe­ri­ods Jan­uary to June 2004 and 2005/2006; a ‘fac­tu­ally in­cor­rect state­ment’ made by then Cllr. de Búrca in cor­re­spon­dence with the County Sec­re­tary; and her role in a li­bel action taken against East Coast FM, stem­ming from a press release is­sued by her.

Cllr. Blake also com­plained about fel­low Coun­cil­lor Tommy Cullen’s fail­ure to make dec­la­ra­tions for the pe­riod 2005/2006, and a ‘fac­tu­ally in­cor­rect state­ment’ made by Cllr. Cullen in cor­re­spon­dence with the County Sec­re­tary.

In the case of the com­plaint against the Tim­mins broth­ers, the Com­mis­sion noted that both sup­plied let­ters from their so­lic­i­tor to state they did not ac­quire any in­ter­est in the rel­e­vant lands un­til 2006. Their grand­fa­ther had first owned the land, and it had then passed into the own­er­ship first of their fa­ther, and then of their mother. The Stan­dards Com­mis­sion con­sid­ered that in view of this, there was no ba­sis on which to sus­tain the com­plaints.

In con­sid­er­ing the com­plaint against Cllr. Blake, the Commision con­sid­ered that the in­ter­est was so re­mote or in­signif­i­cant as not to fall within the scope of a ben­e­fi­cial in­ter­est as de­fined in the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act.

In re­la­tion to the com­plaints against Se­na­tor de Búrca and Cllr. Cullen, the Com­mis­sion noted that the dec­la­ra­tions of in­ter­est re­ferred to had sub­se­quently been fur­nished. It fur­ther noted that there ap­peared to be a con­flict of ev­i­dence as to whether they had pre­vi­ously been fur­nished, as claimed by both de Búrca and Cullen. In those cir­cum­stances, the Com­mis­sion de­cided there was no ba­sis on which to ini­ti­ate an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the com­plaints.

The Com­mis­sion also de­cided there was no ba­sis on which to ini­ti­ate an in­ves­ti­ga­tion un­der the Ethics Act into the com­plaints con­cern­ing the al­leged fac­tu­ally in­cor­rect state­ments con­cern­ing Se­na­tor de Búrca’s ac­tions in re­gard to East Coast FM.

The Com­mis­sion’s de­ci­sions were an­nounced to the County Man­ager, for re­lay to those in­volved. Mean­while, the Com­mis­sion also ad­vised the County Man­ager of its view that the com­plaints should have been prop­erly re­solved within the County Coun­cil, without the ne­ces­sity of re­course to the Stan­dards Com­mis­sion. The County

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