Friday 17 April 2009

West Cork planning protesters vow to repeat County Hall sit-in

PROTESTERS who staged a sit-in at Cork County Council headquarters last Monday have vowed to strike again if they don’t get firm commitments from councillors to make planning guidelines less restrictive in west Cork.

Around 300 people attended the protest at County Hall. Nearly 60 of them staged a sit-in at the council chamber, forcing the local authority to abandon a meeting for the first time in its history.

Despite county manager Martin Riordan offering them some assurances, protesters remain belligerent.

Representatives from the protest group are set to meet with the five county councillors from the Bantry electoral area tonight, where they will again discuss their claims that young people are finding it particularly difficult to get planning permission for one-off houses in rural areas.

Protest spokesman Finbarr Harrington said that if the councillors were unable to provide a commitment following tonight’s meeting at the Bantry Bay Hotel, his organisation would repeat last Monday’s sit-in.

"Unless we are given a guarantee that something is going to change we will do the same thing when the council meets again in a fortnight’s time.

"We want a commitment that they will relax the planning criteria," Mr Harrington said.

Protestors claims that planners are being too stringent and are effectively driving young people out of west Cork.

Mr Harrington gave five examples of this at Monday’s meeting.

In one case he claimed planners had refused permission because a house would be seen from the sea.

In another case, he said, planners had told a man he couldn’t build on one site on a farm, but could use another site, which was sandwiched between a milking parlour and silage pit.

The county manager said he would examine up to 100 rejections in the west Cork area if protesters wanted him to.

Mr Harrington said he would be taking up that offer.

He added that he also wanted assurances that further restrictions under the Special Scenic Landscapes directive wouldn’t be introduced "without full and proper consultations".

Irish Examiner

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