A former long time council planning official, who served outside of Meath, has told Meath Live that Damien English’s planning application would have come under far greater scrutiny than a similar application from a member of the public.

They said, ‘Not just  Damien’s but any TD’s or indeed councillors application would see whoever was making the decision pay very close attention to getting it right for the obvious reason that if any of the TD’s political  opponents discovered any flaws they would expose them publicly so the decision maker would be dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s extremely carefully.’

Asked whether a planner is restricted to acting solely on the information supplied by the applicant the former official gave an emphatic no.

They said,’ Damien English resigned because he admitted not saying in his application that he already owned a property, if in the course of his every day life the planner processing that application was aware that in fact he did own a second property then they could act on that.

‘There would be two ways of doing it, either call the applicant privately and advise them of the issue or stick to the rulebook and write out requesting additional information, am I surprised neither course of action appears to have been followed in this case, to be honest no.

‘The reason I say no is because there is no way of establishing that the person assessing Damien’s application knew the information in front of him was wrong, and even if they did how do you definitively prove that.

‘What I can say for certain is once the planner recognises the application is from a politician they’ll be extra  careful with it.’