Queries relating to perceived imbalance and perceived inaccuracy of opinion piece
•1. (A) “Column shows disregard for balance, and demonstrates extreme selectivity and inaccuracy in relation to fact, that the piece may be described as a polemic rather than informed comment.”
(B) “Other inaccuracies, in the areas of property law, planning law and just basic facts, lead one to believe that Dr Byrne has created a narrative to suit an agenda.”
(A) I utterly reject the suggestion that my opinion piece was unfair and one-sided. The opinion piece highlighted significant issues of public concern. These include the following:
1. The takeover of the Tank Field by the City Council
2. The transfer/leasing of the Tank Field to Brian Dillon’s GAA Club (BDC), a private organisation.
3. The process of allowing the Gaelscoil to establish a presence on the grounds of BDC
4. The efforts made at establishing a permanent Gaelscoil
5. Deficiencies in the Department of Education and Science process
6. Deficiencies in the planning process
7. Issues about expenditure of public funds
8. Public policy issues
Research undertaken for opinion piece
The basis of the opinion piece was a visit to the Tank Field, some of the alternative sites rejected by the Department of Education and Science and the general local area. Research documents include:
Cork City Council documentation relating to their acquisition of the Tank Field through their “powers as a housing authority”
Freedom of Information documents from the Department of Education and Science which includes a letter from the five Principals and their boards of management and information regarding the DEIS programme;
Freedom of Information documents from the files on the Tank Field by the Cork City Council and the Department of Education and Science, including documents from the Gaelscoil An Ghoirt Álainn Board of Management and their discussions with the Department which in turn held discussions with the City Council on alternative sites.
Cork City Council and An Bord Pleanála publicly available documents which include maps, planning application details over a number of years, An Bord Pleanála Inspector’s Report and the report of An Bord Pleanála overturning their Inspector’s Report. Also, an Bord Pleanála guidelines, which allow for the overturning of An Bord Pleanála inspectors’ reports on the grounds of “strategic importance;”
1996-2006 Central Statistics material;
A letter from the Montenotte Park Residents’ Association, dated September 14th, 2009, addressed to all of the Cork City Councillors, which was cc’d to the Comptroller and Auditor General, Minister for Environment and the Minister for Education and Science.
Maps of the Tank Field, the Glen and the general Mayfield/Montenotte area;
Cork City Development Plan 2009-2015, with particular reference to North East Cork;
Public statements by local political representatives on the Tank Field.
(B) I am very happy to clarify any inaccuracies but, in order to do so, it would be helpful if readers would explain what they believe these inaccuracies to be rather than just stating that inaccuracies exist.
In relation to planning, it is a fact that An Bord Pleanála overturned the decision by its own inspector to refuse planning permission on the Tank Field because the board decided that a Gaelscoil in Montenotte/Mayfield was of “strategic importance”. See above attached links.
There are questions over the accuracy of the maps utilised in the original planning application to Cork City Council and which were subsequently used by An Bord Pleanála in grating its planning application. There are also possible difficulties in implementing the decision by An Bord Pleanála as it is not possible to comply with the decision and comply with the safety requirements of ESB in relation to overhead high tension cables. These differing maps, attached below, were submitted together as part of the documentation for the planning application. These maps can also be found on the website of the City Council.
Planning Map 1 shows the site location and the boundaries.
Planning Map 2 was used to show the site, the location of the building and that of the GAA pitch. This differs significantly from Planning Maps 1 & 3. The boundary has been moved by approximately 28 meters, the position of the building moved by approximately 12 meters and the area reduced by about a half acre.
Planning Map 3 is similar to Planning Map 1 but more detailed and shows the building location.
To better illustrate the differences, I have attached two further documents showing enlargements of relevant areas on Maps 2 and 3.