Thursday, May 18, 2006
Meath’s Settlement Strategy
I attended a Constituency Council Meeting in the Ashbourne Court Hotel on the night the article was published. Two of the local members were concerned about the policy. I explained the policy as best I could. They were reasonably happy when it was explained to them, but suggested that I should try to clarify the policy on the airwaves as soon as possible.
The meeting finished at 11pm and as I was driving home I was surfing the stations in the car. I came across the Adrian Kennedy show on FM104 and, lo and behold, sure weren’t they talking about the Settlement Strategy. I did a “Will I , won’t I” for about ten minutes and by the time I had decided to go on I was home.
I got out my contact book and dialled the show. They established my bona fides and put me through to the studio. I could hear the other callers in my earpiece:
“All you dubs do is bring drugs into our villages. We don’t want any more of yis down here” opined one of the caller.
“Are ya mad or wha?? Yis er all taking our jobs in Dublin. Why can’t we live in Meath, ya big snob ya!” replied aggrieved from Dublin.
They were tearing strips off each other! I hesitated about going on: it reminded me of the interview I did on LMFM with Fergus O’Dowd and Dermot Aherne about the budget, when they were at it like cats and I was about to join them to debate the finer aspects of post neoclassical endogenous growth theory.
I got my breath and went on and said my piece for ten minutes. I think that I managed to clarify things in the process.
On Friday I walked across to Millmount Abbey, whose residents are suffering increased congestion since the opening of the Bryanstown Cross route. I watched with the residents association as traffic started to pile up. A few days later I spoke about the congestion to the Area Engineer, who has agreed to try do something about it.
The Local Area meeting in Duleek was quite eventful. We discussed the closure of Laytown Library and also the road safety outside Laytown school. I brought up the issue of lighting and speed ramps within Mill Race, Duleek. Speeding within estates is a big issue for many residents. Over the last month I have been contacted by residents in other estates, such as The Highlands, Drogheda and Alderbrook, Ashbourne in relation to traffic calming measures within their estates.
I also brought up the issue in relation to the footpath at Silverstream Close, Stamullen, which connects Glasheen and Kilbreck to the village centre. Work is about to start on the footpath. One of the local residents is also keeping the pressure on to finish works at the culvert in Stamullen. I mentioned to the Area Engineer that the current railings beside the culvert are potentially unsafe.
Our office works are continuing. At the moment the refurbishment job is taking quite a lot of my time. At this stage I am calling out every day to view progress. We are hoping to be in at the end of the month.
Can you talk a little more about the "Settlement Strategy", where did it come from and what's the goal.
Personally I don't like it, not only is it probably illegal on constitutional and EU grounds, it is very dangerous.
If a proposal came out to prevent coloured people, or eastern europeans buying houses in certain areas there would be uproar. But effectively that is what this proposal does, since there will be very few non-english speaking, non-white people who can claim to be "local". I can't see that this policy promotes the common good along the lines of language requirements in Gaeltacht areas or the Part V social housing rules.
Diversity is what makes a community, I want to live with rich, poor, local, dubs, culchies etc. Just compare Drogheda today to what it was like 10 years ago, there's a buzz created by all the new people in town that was never there before. The "locals only" mind-set is a step backwards and a sign of an underdeveloped society.
Planning should be about what gets built and not who lives there. The demographic mix can be controlled by say building a mix of house types and providing certain facilities. If the goal is to limit the size of some villages this can properly be done through the County and local plans and the planning process itself.
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