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Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins on The Tonight Show. The Tonight Show/Virgin Media
Personal circumstances

Niall Collins TD repeatedly refuses to answer question on 2001 planning application

When asked about details of whether the listed address was incorrect, Collins said he wouldn’t go into his ‘personal living circumstances’.

FIANNA FÁIL TD Niall Collins has repeatedly refused to answer questions on whether information he provided on a 2001 planning application was correct.

The issue was raised in the Dáil at the beginning of this month, and Collins said he believed that the planning application he submitted 23 years ago “met the correct planning criteria and was correctly adjudicated on”.

Questions around the planning application had arisen after news website The Ditch made a number of claims about a planning application submitted by the Limerick County TD and junior minister at the Department of Higher Education.

In May 2001, Collins applied to Limerick County Council for planning permission for a two-storey house in Patrickswell, Co Limerick on a site owned by his father.

In the application documents, which have been seen by The Journal, Collins lists Red House Hill, Patrickswell as the address.

He told the Dáil that he had met the criteria within the 1999 Limerick Development Plan to be able to build a house on this site, as he was the son of a long-term resident landowner alongside the fact that he had lived in the area prior to 1990.

At the time of his application, Collins had been living with his wife in a property on Father Russell Road, Dooradoyle.

In the application itself, Collins states he had lived at his father’s Red House Hill address for 30 years (1971-2001).

However, during his Dáil statement earlier this month, Collins did not state why this was listed as his address, but said that he had lived in Patrickswell for 28 years.

Speaking on The Tonight Show on Virgin Media last night, Collins was pressed on the information he provided in the 2001 planning application.

Collins said he “fully complied with planning policy”.

However, Collins repeatedly said that he wouldn’t go into his “personal living circumstances”.

He claimed that the application was “completed by the agent” and added that “it didn’t matter where you were living”.

He also refused to answer whether he was living in his father’s house at that time, which is what was stated on the planning application.

When presenter Claire Brock noted that Fine Gael’s Damien English provided his “personal living circumstances”, Collins replied: “Those circumstances were different, because planning policy was different then at that point in time.”

He added that there is a “distinct difference” between his circumstances and those of English.

English resigned as Minister of State in January for his failure to declare ownership of an existing home in his planning application for a new property in 2008.

When further pressed on why his father’s address was listed as his own address, Collins replied: “Because that was my home address, that was where I came from.”

He then repeated that he would not go into his “personal living circumstances”.

Collins added: “It’s not about where you were living, it’s about complying with policy. In order to comply with the planning policy, there were four criteria published within the 199 Limerick County Development Plan.

“In order to qualify for a planning permission, you needed to fulfil one of the criteria, I fulfilled two of the criteria.”

When asked again about the apparent discrepancy, Collins said: “I am giving you the answer that I am prepared to give, that I clearly qualified under the planning criteria at the time.”

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