Planning in Ireland Suffers Box Ticking Tyranny

By Seamus Whelehan

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The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoughan Murphy, has been tasked with giving greater consideration to public opinion when deciding “red hot” Planning Applications.

Cork County Councillors have asked the Minister to consider the use of Plebiscites in deciding controversial planning requests, such as the Ringaskiddy incinerator, the Skibbereen Plastics factory the Cork City Flood scheme and N28 Ringaskiddy Motorway.

The move follows a Motion tabled by Independent Cllr Diarmaid O’Cadhla at full Council on Monday (25 March) who said the public consultation process appeared to be just a box ticking exercise.

The Cobh /Glanmire Municipal Cllr said it’s a cause of “frustration” in communities when widespread opposition to controversial plans have been expressed, but continue to go ahead despite this.

“You should be able to have a community like Ringaskiddy collect the required number of signatures and force a Plebiscite which will decide matters, rather than have it taken out of their hand and continually force communities to revert to the High Court, seeking judicial reviews” he said.

Independent Cllr Marcia Dalton, who strongly opposes a toxic waste incinerator in Cork Harbour said while there are statutory processes in place,  Cllr O’Cadhla’s agenda item warranted further discussion.

She said she understood why the statutory processes are in the format they are “but there is huge opportunity and obligation on Council to try and engage with people more… what we produce will be richer as a result and less money will be spent on judicial reviews, to everybody’s benefit.”

Fianna Fail Cllr Gearóid Murphy said the right of citizen initiative was in the original Free State Constitution in 1922 but it wasn’t used with any great success.

He said in his opinion what was being raised may require a Constitutional change.

The Minister has been asked to open a debate on the proposal.

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