Madam, - At a rally in Tralee, Co Kerry organised by the Irish Rural Dwellers Association to protest against rural housing policies, IRDA founder Jim Connolly talked about rural dwellers suffering from imported "British ideology" (The Irish Times, April 22nd).
As a foreign national and planner working in Clare, I take strong exception to this sort of gratuitously offensive and paranoid drivel.
Local authority professional planners recommend policies and make planning decisions based on Irish law and Government guidelines. Mr Connolly is well aware of the Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines, published by the Department of the Environment in 2005, which urge planning authorities to adopt the very policies against which he is protesting. Clare County Council, for example, has rural housing policies in its development plan which in general provide for local rural people to build in their own area.
By attacking local authority planners in this way and as a soft target, he does the IRDA no credit whatsoever. - Yours, etc,
Newmarket on Fergus,
Madam, - I note from Tuesday's edition that the IRDA was protesting against the planning restrictions on selling and developing one-off sites.
At a time when we are daily being reminded of the looming food crisis, when the argument in favour of increasing locally produced food and reducing our dependence on imports becomes ever more imperative, it seems that what we are best at growing in this country is houses. The area north of Dublin, which was once the vegetable-producing centre for the country, has been sold off for more and more housing and commercial development. It is now almost impossible to buy an Irish-grown tomato in a supermarket at the height of the tomato season.
IRDA founder Jim Connolly complains that we are suffering from "British ideology". Perhaps the British model is one we should look at more closely.
In England, rural development is centred on villages. There is hardly any new one-off housing and you don't see ribbon development along country roads. The result is a sense of community which seems to be dying out in rural areas here. - Yours, etc,
The Irish Times