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19 Aug 2022

External review into purchase of mica houses exonerates council staff

Special council meeting to discuss the report to take place on Monday

'I cannot afford to be charity organisation' - An Crannla developer

The report was initiated by the council earlier this year after concerns were raised over the purchase of the houses at An Crannla in Buncrana in 2021

An external review of Donegal County Council’s purchase of five houses in Buncrana that tested positive for mica has exonerated council staff from any accusations of wrongdoing.

The report carried out by Dublin-based consultants BDO Ireland was initiated by the council earlier this year after concerns were raised over the purchase of the houses at An Crannla in 2021.

The €600,000 acquisition of the houses has been the subject of heated discussions in the council in recent months. 

Members of the council’s corporate policy group were briefed on the report at a special online meeting on Tuesday by the council's chief executive John McLaughlin and the acting director of housing Patsy Lafferty. They were told the report found no evidence of corrupt behaviour or systemic corruption and that staff involved in the purchase were fully exonerated.

Councillors decided that the report would be released to the staff named in the external review before it is released to councillors.

A special full meeting of the county council is to take place on Monday to discuss the report, which is to be sent to councillors in advance.

The houses were purchased with funding from the Department of Housing and concern has been raised about whether or not the council informed the department of the presence of mica before the purchase went ahead.

Announcing the external review in February, Mr  McLaughlin said the council did “not see any evidence of corruption” in the purchase of the houses but will allow others “to have a look at it and go through the detail”.

Also in February, the then Cathaoirleach of the council Jack Murray said he had sent information on allegations of corruption regarding the purchase of the houses that he received from one councillor to gardaí. 

The purchase has also been at the centre of allegations of “systemic corruption” within the council by Cllr Frank McBrearty Jnr.

Other councillors have expressed concern that unsubstantiated accusations have tarnished the reputation of the council.

Cllr McBrearty has sent a file on his own investigation into the acquisition of the houses to the local authority and the Garda commissioner.

Donegal County Council has not responded to a request for comment on the completion of the report.

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