Meath Chronicle: An Taisce accepts €5,000 I ndaver donation
- Published: Wednesday, 4th August, 2010 5:00pm
[Will somebody please start a campaign to have An Taisce investigated? They opposed the litigation over Carrickmines; didn't review An Bord Pleanala's decision on the M3; support the N2 Slane bypass - and have repeatedly been accused of being corrupt, most recently in the Irish Times - without response. Now some of them are even claiming to speak for the left, after purchasing Village magazine. 5th columnists I say, who need to exposed for once and for all.]
An Taisce accepts €5,000 Indaver donation
Cllr says body should be 'stood down' pending inquiry into its affairs
A Meath councillor has called for the An Taisce organisation to be "stood down" pending an inquiry into its affairs after it was disclosed that it had accepted sizeable corporate donations, including a €5,000 contribution to its funds from the Indaver waste management company, which is building an incinerator at Carranstown, Duleek.
Independent councillor Brian Fitzgerald said there should be an inquiry to determine whether there is a conflict of interest among any of its members or advisors. It was disclosed in the organisation's annual report that it had received a "very welcome" grant of €25,000 from the Tesco supermarket chain. In one of its newsletters, it also acknowledged a "generous" €5,000 from Indaver.
The newsletter said: "This month saw a generous €5,000 donation come in from Indaver. An Taisce's history with Indaver has been colourful in the past and though we are sure that there will be more colour in our collective future, we see that this donation is a purely altruistic gesture and we thank Indaver for their support. The money will be put to good use!"
An Taisce responded to Cllr Fitzgerald by saying that An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, was a charity. In common with many charities and non-profit organisations, it actively petitioned the corporate world for support, it said. It denied that any donation had ever been used to influence any decision within the planning department for An Taisce.
Cllr Fitzgerald said that serious issues were raised by the delivery of corporate donations to An Taisce. He said the possibility arose that there might be a conflict of interest for An Taisce if it accepted corporate donations. "It is a prescribed body with special status under the planning laws. It also receives Government funding and it is notified of development plans and local area plans (LAPS)," he said.
"I am calling for a full disclosure of all corporate donations paid to An Taisce over the last five years. I want the organisation to be stood down by the minister until there is a complete inquiry carried out to determine if there is a conflict of interest with any of their members or advisors in the whole area of planning."
He accused An Taisce of being "very quiet" about planning applications for some quarries in Meath and he said that it was "highly unusual" that there had "not been a peep" from the organisation into the application by EirGrid for the undergrounding of power cables in Meath even though there had been a "huge" number of objectors.
Another independent councillor, Jimmy Cudden, said he supported Cllr Fitzgerald's views. "An Taisce has been known to object to certain planning applications in Meath and not to others. I am very surprised at these donations from corporate bodies and I think the organisation should come clean on exactly what corporate donations it is receiving," said Cllr Cudden.
Pat O'Brien of the No Incineration Alliance said the acceptance of corporate donations by An Taisce "should be outside their remit". He said that if Indaver decided on a phase two of its development at Carranstown, would An Taisce object to it if necessary or would it be compromised by having accepted the €5,000 donation?
An Taisce said yesterday (Tuesday) that it had been set up 62 years ago to protect the environment for the people of Ireland and it had endeavoured to do this without fear or favour. At times, this had brought it into conflict with bodies and individuals who would like to see Ireland develop in a different vein. It claimed that it had been a lone voice in the wilderness of uncontrolled development during the years of the Celtic Tiger.
"We are a company limited by guarantee in common with the majority of other charities. We have played an active role in planning issues in County Meath, along with other counties; however, during the chaos of the Tiger years, the number of planning applications rocketed and, as a small charity, we were not able to keep track of all of them and so some may have slipped through." It said much of its work was done by volunteers and it was not always possible for them to respond to all the planning issues referred to the organisation.
It claimed that it had been very active in the issue of quarries, particularly in Meath, but one of its major problems was the lack of enforcement once a planning decision had been made.
It denied that prescribed body status gave it any other powers than were available to any citizen of the State in making submissions on planning applications.
It said that while it received some statutory support, this was solely for particular projects within the organisation and did not come near covering its running costs. Government funding could not be used to take appeals and make submissions on planning issues, it said.
The money from membership fees went a large way to funding its work but the deficit in its budget had to be covered by donations. Its accounts were publicly available. Annual returns were available at Companies House, it added.
On the Indaver donation, it said this had come about as a result of a direct mail campaign to businesses. "This was originally going to be specific to our National Trust work, ie, property maintenance/restoration but was subsequently made as a donation to general funds, as the National Trust project in question was more significant than this funding would cover.