28 May 2008

The Irish Rural Dwellers Association were before the Oireachtas Environment Committee yesterday pressing home their argument that An Bord Planala has an anti rural bias. They pointed out – correctly - that the make up of an Bord doesn’t follow the rules which govern its own establishment in that there is an overrepresentation of Irish Congress of Trade Union nominees but nobody to represent the Irish rural tradition. (The IRDA took out a full page ad about this in one of the national newspapers a while back. It generated absolutely no discussion whatsoever – maybe when the incorrect set up of the Bord has an effect on some dodgy Ballsbridge application, Dublin will take notice.) 

Anyway, during yesterday’s IRDA submission a more interesting citation of Bord Planala bias came up – apparently, some Dublin based think tank is putting together new guidelines for building houses in the countryside. At one of their meetings a couple of weeks back, a Bord Planala Inspector invited to participate said something to the effect that she was against any type of rural development whatsoever. (!) I hope she doesn’t allow this deeply personal view cloud her official responsibility to implement stated government policy which, as it currently stands, favours some types of development.

The IRDA gets unfair treatment in the media. They're treated like crackpots. A piece in the Irish Times a few weeks back, which included a photograph of a non IRDA member and bona fide crackpot, was so unwarrented. As I understand their position, the IRDA aren't calling for a rural planning free for all. All they want is for the DoE and the County Councils to acknowledge that rural living is a legitimate part of Irish life and engage in a discussion leading to appropriate and proportionate policies. Is this too much to ask?

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