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who is harry smyth?

Young couple facing 'planning nightmare' because of 'mystery' objector

The couple have never heard of the objector and don’t even know if it is a man or a woman.

A GALWAY MAN said yesterday that he and his wife have endured “a planning nightmare” over a ‘mystery objector’ blocking their plans for their dream home near the shores of Lough Corrib.

Richard Barrett was speaking after an An Bord Pleanala oral hearing in Oughterard yesterday that was held to establish as to whether the objector, Harry Smyth to the Barrett plan is who he or she says they are.

However, there was no show at the hearing yesterday from Harry Smyth and instead the mystery objector sent a Dublin based planning consultant, Brendan Buck to represent them.

At the outset, board inspector, Paul Caprani told the hearing “we don’t even know if Harry Smyth is a man or a woman.

The validity of the appeal by Harry Smyth is under question and I want to know why Harry Smyth is not here with a copy of her passport, driver’s licence with the name Harry Smyth on it and proof that she lives at the address given. Why the appellant is not here today with those details is beyond me.

Caprani said that in his 20 years with An Bord Pleanala he has never held an oral hearing into a one-off home application and it is his belief that the reason the board has decided to hold the oral hearing is to establish the bona fides of Harry Smyth.

He said that questions around the identity of Harry Smyth are “crucial” to the board considering as to whether the appeal can be considered valid or not.

Three weeks ago, primary school teacher, Lisa Barrett gave birth to the Barretts’ first baby and NUIG employee, Richard Barrett said that the planned home is hoped to be the family home for the couple and their new baby girl.

The mechanical engineer said: “It is a stressful situation not knowing if we are going to be able to build in the community that we grew up in. The stress is unbelievable and financial cost of this is significant.”

The couple are renting an apartment currently and face eviction in February with their landlord selling up.

Barrett said that they were ready to start building in September at the site at Carrowmoreknock, Rosscahill and had pencilled in next April or May as a moving in date but for the appeal lodged by Harry Smyth.

He said: “We have been brought through the wringer on this. It mystifies us as to who Harry Smyth is. I have never heard of Harry Smyth. We can’t believe what is going on. This has resulted in extreme un-necessary stress for Lisa and myself.

I have no problem to someone objecting on x,y, z grounds and we would address that as best we could but no being able to put a face to the name or conclusively know that this person exists is very tough. If you are going to object to someone’s home, you should at the very least be required to show ID.

Already, Harry Smyth has been successful in 2016 blocking plans by the Barretts from building on the site after Galway County Council refused planning permission.

The couple re-applied this year and Harry Smyth objected again but on this occasion, Galway Co Council granted planning permission only for Harry Smyth to appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanala in August.

However, Smyth gave two different addresses at Whitestrand Park, Whitestrand Rd, Galway in objecting to the two applications which raised the suspicions of the young couple.

The Barretts found that there was no Harry Smyth living at either address resulting in them lodging a complaint with Gardaí in Galway in April.

In a submission to the board, the Barretts have enclosed sworn affidavits from the owners of the homes that Harry Smyth claims to reside at stating that they do not know a Harry Smyth.

One of the home owners said in her affidavit that in July 2016, a person approached her to ask if she had received any letters for Harry Smyth and after a short time a letter did come for a Harry Smyth and she gave the letter to the person.

Consultant for the Barretts, Stephen Dowds told the hearing yesterday that the home owner knew the person and knew it wasn’t Harry Smyth but she didn’t want to say who the person was.

Barrett told the hearing that no Harry Smyth appears on the register of electors in the area. A recent registered letter sent by the board to Harry Smyth as his Whitestrand Rd address was returned un-opened.

Buck said that he was approached 10 days ago by his client but declined to state at the hearing if he has had a face to face meeting with his client.

Dowds asked that the appeal be declared invalid “because of the many unanswered questions around Harry Smyth. I have even more questions about Harry Smyth after today”.

The appeal by Harry Smyth claims that the Barrett plan would set an undesirable precedent for similar future development in the area and should be refused.

Caprani said that if the board declares the appeal invalid “any arguments relating to the planning merits of the proposal will not be considered by the board”.

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