ATTACK ON LOCAL DEMOCRACY

My colleague Dermot Lacey (Chair of the Labour Councillors association) has highlighted the decision by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to withdraw the long established planning rights for local Councillors to discuss at their Local Area Committee meeting major planning applications in affecting their community.

The implications of this in Dublin 15 and Dublin 7 would be that local councilors cannot put on record the many justifiable concerns and objections the community has to major new developments. I have worked closely with residents and local councilors on a number of current planning issues where there are legitimate concerns and objections

The housing crisis does not warrant such an attack on the community and their right to have their voice heard in local government.

Describing the proposal Cllr Dermot Lacey said:

“This is the first day that the directive issued by Minister Eoghan Murphy comes into effect, telling Councillors that we can no longer discuss major planning applications at municipal district or area committee meetings or other meetings of City and County Councils. The directive was issued at his request.

“It is bizarre and hypocritical that the letter would advise us that it has come to his attention now, seeing that as a previous Councillor in the South East area he would have been aware of this long established practice.

“This represents a grievous attack on local government and on the rights of communities to have planning issues aired in public and their concerns represented in a democratic forum. This has been a long standing right going back over many years and is the further destruction of local democracy and the right of the people’s representatives to voice their concerns to planning officials.

“Up to now, Councillors could request that a presentation on a live planning application be given to local Councillors at an area meeting. At those presentations a planning official would go through the application outlining the proposed development and the planning officials could also hear the comments of Councillors on the application. According to the directive, this must now cease.

“It represents the second withdrawal of planning rights from Councillors and local government during the term of this Government following the movement of planning applications for so called strategic developments of 100 or more housing units to An Bord Pleanala.

“It is clear that this is an attempt to circumvent local democracy and ensure that developers have even more of a say in our planning process.

“What this type of behaviour shows is that Fine Gael cannot be trusted when it comes to Local Government matters.”

ENDS

A copy of the directive can be found here:

https://www.labour.ie/download/pdf/discussion_of_planning_applications_at_council_meetings.pdf