Fine Gael councillor John Bailey with daughter, fellow councillor Maria Bailey: 'I am totally independent and impartial'

A FINE Gael councillor said that thousands of euro in donations from two companies behind a controversial development had no bearing on his failure to object to its go-ahead.

John Bailey told voters he had objected to An Bord Pleanála over the controversial redevelopment of the old Dun Laoghaire Golf Club, but the appeals body later confirmed it had received no such correspondence.

It has since been revealed that Bailey, who sits on Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown Council with his daughter Maria, received financial donations from both the developers in question and its estate agent ahead of his unsuccessful 2007 general election bid.

Bailey said he now accepted his objection had gone missing, but that when contacted by the Sunday Tribune, he re-sent the documents as an observation. The deadline has passed for objections. "These things can happen in the post but it's most unusual," he said.

Bailey also enclosed a new submission cheque but said his bank was still looking into whether or not the initial one to An Bord Pleanála had ever been cashed.

Cosgrave Developments and Hooke & McDonald, both of whom are behind the contentious development, gave Bailey donations of €2,500 each ahead of the general election.

However, he denied that this in any way compromised or affected his ability to object to the project.

"I am totally independent and totally impartial. I am there to represent people," he said. "Everybody has to do fundraising for the elections. I have never shirked from whatever I have had to say. I am not bought or beholden to anybody."

Bailey was unclear as to whether he had sought the donations directly or whether he had been approached by the companies.

"I can't tell you off the top of my head but you do whatever you can during elections," he said.

Bailey circulated leaflets to around 100 constituents, local to the golf course site, stating that he had filed the objection to An Bord Pleanála.

The objections would also have been also flawed in that Bailey made reference to two separate planning applications in the letter, which has been seen by the Sunday Tribune. Such a move is prohibited by An Bord Pleanála rules. "If I did that I made an error," he previously conceded.

The plans for one of the two developments in question is still with the local authority and so an appeal to An Bord Pleanála was premature.

The development currently before the board relates to 605 residential units on the site off the Glenageary Road Upper and Eglinton Park, Dun Laoghaire. The application, still with the council, refers to a separate but related development at the old bowls club.