Northern Ireland news

Padraig McShane seeks whistle-blower status

Padraig McShane, an Independent member of Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council

A councillor who allegedly recorded conversations with officials connected to a legal challenge over a planned £20m hotel and leisure complex on the north coast is seeking whistleblower status, the High Court heard today.

Padraig McShane confirmed the step being taken amid claims his actions have left him with "much to lose".

Adjourning Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council's bid to secure an order for disclosure of any relevant tapes, a judge back his plea for more time to seek legal advice.

Mr Justice McCloskey said: "Prima facie, Councillor McShane has acted in a courageous and highly responsible fashion.

"I accept at this stage... his assertion that he has nothing to gain from bringing all of this upon himself, and indeed he goes on to suggest he has much to lose."

The intervention by Mr McShane has led to proceedings mounted by TUV leader Jim Allister being put on hold.

Mr Allister is judicially reviewing the Council for giving the green light to the luxury accommodation facilities in Portstewart.

Mr McShane was a member of its planning committee who approved the proposed resort at the heart of the North West 200 race route earlier this year.

Plans include a 120-bedroom hotel, spa, holiday cottages, conference facilities and restaurant being built on the Ballyreagh Road.

But in a dramatic development, it emerged last week that Mr McShane has sent a sworn affidavit to both the Attorney General and the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman setting out his claims.

The independent councillor, who also chairs the local authority's audit committee, told the court that he has "hours" of material taped on a device other than a mobile phone.

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