In the Sunday Times this weekend there was an excellent article on some of the problems surrounding policy making in Ireland. The article reiterated my own belief that the policy advice and direction given by Senior Civil servants at national level is sometimes seriously flawed with serious consequences for citizens. The article refers specifically to the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act passed in Dec which made Specific Planning Policy Requirements such as apartment size standards mandatory. I raised serious objections to this Bill in the Seanad as it gave the Minister considerable new powers to override Local Government and issue what are effectively mandatory guidelines.
I am relieved that this serious issue which yet again highlights the ongoing erosion of local decision making powers is gaining traction in the media and will hopefully be noticed by the powers that be. If it is not addressed immediately we must work together to lobby for it. As the Sunday Times pointed out I was the only politician who highlighted the risks to local democracy from this legislation.
“Only one politician highlighted the potentially serious nature of this. Speaking in the Seanad, Senator Gerard Craughwell said: "For the development plan to be subjugated to the whim of a minister is totally unacceptable ... for the guidelines of a minister to carry supremacy over local statements of intent regarding a development plan is an undermining of democracy of the worst kind." (Sunday Times 13 March 2016).