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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Planning Permission

Damien English 'disappointed and embarrassed' about planning controversy that led to resignation

‘I put my hand up, I gave the wrong information,’ said the former Fine Gael minister.

FORMER FINE GAEL junior minister Damien English has said he is “embarrassed” and “disappointed” that he had to resign over providing incorrect information on a planning application.

English resigned his position as Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment after revelations about a planning application he submitted in 2008.

The Ditch news website reported that English had not declared his ownership of a residential property for more than a decade.

Following the report, People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy submitted a complaint to Sipo and requested that the commission investigate the incident.

However, Sipo decided this week that it does not intend to pursue an investigation. Separately, the Dáil Committee on Members’ Interests has decided that there was not sufficient evidence to sustain a complaint by Labour against English. 

English told RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne that he was “extremely disappointed” with himself and “embarrassed that standards I set for myself were not met and that is why I resigned”.

He said he hopes to be re-elected and that voters can “look beyond” the episode.

“I was very clear on this when I resigned. I put my hand up, I gave the wrong information,” he said.

“It was very clear from reviewing my planning file that the information was wrong and that’s not good enough.

“That’s why I resigned, that’s why I apologised, that’s the way I dealt with that. It’s a number of years ago. I can’t give reasons or excuses that eases the pain on that. It was wrong.

“I dealt with it as best I possibly could, which I felt at the time was to resign my position,” he said. 

English said he never denied what was reported, stating that he takes full responsibility for it. 

“I said the information was wrong on my file,” he added.

“The planner very clearly says that he was led to believe from my file that I didn’t have a house. I’m saying that that was wrong. I’m not denying that. I can’t address that or fix that.

At the time of the controversy, it was also reported that English failed to declare the ownership of the home on his Oireachtas register of members’ interests.

When asked about the house and its use, English said that the home “has always been in family use”, stating that if he had been renting out the home he would have had to declare it. He clarified that he never has rented out the house. 

“It’s not for me to discuss with my family business, to be honest with you on that in relation to that house,” he said, only stating that the home was for “family use.”

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