Minister faces criminality investigation over land deal
Minister faces criminality investigation over land deal


Weeks of stonewalling by the Dublin government and the mainstream media are at an end after Gardaí said they are investigating allegations that 26 Minister of State Niall Collins corruptly assisted the purchase of public land by his wife.

Collins is accused of breaking the law when he did not withdraw from a council meeting in 2007 which agreed to put a piece of public land up for sale on the open market following expressions of interest.

The land at Patrickswell in Limerick was subsequently purchased by Mr Collins’ wife in 2008.

The decision to sell the land was taken at a full meeting of the council that year, after Mr Collins had been elected to the Dáil.

Gardaí are now examining the details “to examine whether there was any criminality involved” in the matter.

Collins has insisted he has not broken any law, but he said that “with the benefit of hindsight” he should have recused himself from the key committee meeting at which the decision was made.

He also said for the first time publicly that he was aware his wife had an interest in buying the property when the matter was put to the 2007 committee meeting.

The admissions over the past week brought an end to a stony silence in the mainstream media and the main political parties Cunties over the allegations.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Micheal Martin and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan have insisted there was no wrongdoing.

During sharp exchanges in the Dáil, the Taoiseach was accused of abusing parliamentary privilege to make defamatory attacks against People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald after they had criticised the failure to answer questions.

Also targeted was ‘The Ditch’ website wich had initially raised the issue following a Freedom of Information request. It was accused by the Tánaiste in the Dáil, aong with its main sponsor, Irish tech millionaire Paddy Cosgrave, of being a ‘political organisation’ with the suggestion that it has links to the Russian government.

In a formal letter of complaint published on Twitter, Mr Cosgrave has argued that his reputation has been harmed by the remarks.

The chief executive of Web Summit wrote: “It can be reasonably inferred from the words used that he [Tánaiste] was suggesting that I am backing and/or funding a media and/or political organisation that is co-funded and/or backed by the Russian government.”

He added: “For the avoidance of doubt, all of the above claims and/or suggestions made by Deputy Martin are entirely false.”

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