Fine Gael local election candidate drops out after admitting she took payment from builder to withdraw objection to housing development

A Louth Fine Gael candidate has dropped out of the local elections race, after she confirmed she received money from a builder to withdraw her objection to a housing development near her Termonfeckin home.

Marian Dwyer-Agrios issued a statement on social media confirming the report made in The Ditch on Monday, and has asked voters not to select her as a councillor for Drogheda Rural.

“Following a report published online yesterday (Monday), I wish to announce I will not be contesting the 2024 local elections,” she said.

“What occurred was wrong and I am extremely sorry for it. It should not have happened.

“While my name remains on the ballot paper, I now ask that voters do not consider me for election. Once again, I apologise for what happened. It should not have occurred.

“I will not be making any further comment on this issue.”

The report outlines how a developer applied to Louth County Council in October 2019 for permission to build six extra residential units at its Balfeddock Manor development in Termonfeckin.

Ms Dwyer-Agrios, who lives beside the new housing estate, is reported to have lodged a one-page objection to the development on November 24, 2019.

The sole grounds for the objection was said to be the increase in the number of proposed houses exceeding “the limit of the local area plan”.

The developer received permission but Ms Dwyer-Agrios could still appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

The Ditch report says the builder agreed to pay Ms Dwyer-Agrios €15,000 in cash and carry out €15,000 worth of work on her home in exchange for the withdrawal of her objection to the Termonfeckin development, according to a legal agreement signed by both parties on January 20, 2020.

Fine Gael TD for Louth Fergus O’Dowd said he was “absolutely shocked and horrified” by what had happened, and said Ms Dwyer-Agrios took the only course of action open to her.

“To withdraw her name is 100pc the right decision and I was disgusted by what I heard,” Mr O’Dowd told the Drogheda Independent. “I apologise to people who have been offended – people within Fine Gael have been deeply offended – but we have to move on now and get Anne Marie Ford elected in that area as she is a fine candidate”.

Ms Dwyer-Agrios did not respond to calls or requests for comment.

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