Tuesday, October 16, 2007

'Local Needs' Planning: Irish Government Prepares To Defend The Indefensible...

One of the basic premises of the EU is the freedom of movement for capital and people - EU members can't deny people from EU countries the right to buy property or live anywhere they want in any member state.

But this being Ireland various local agencies have designed regulations that favor 'locals' over 'outsiders' when it comes to securing planning permission for property developments or even in some cases being able to buy property in one of the few remaining 'Irish Speaking' areas of the country. According to the Irish Times:

State defends 'local needs' planning rules to avert EU action

Jamie Smyth in Brussels

Charlie McCreevy: Irish language rule "discriminatory"
Charlie McCreevy: Irish language rule "discriminatory"
Photograph: The Irish Times

The Government has told the EU that local planning regulations based on criteria such as a person's bloodline or ability to speak Irish are "well balanced and proportionate".

It has also argued that such "local needs" restrictions, which exist in 23 county development plans in the Republic, are necessary to maintain the rural fabric of society, achieve balanced regional development and reverse rural population decline.

This robust defence of local planning regulations is contained in a Government dossier sent to the European Commission this month in an attempt to stave off EU legal action. The dossier, which has been seen by The Irish Times , also highlights Ireland's "dynamic property market" as a reason why the restrictions do not breach rules that guarantee the freedom of establishment and the free movement of capital.

About half of the State's local authorities include "local needs" restrictions in their development plans. The move restricts planning permission and sometimes ownership of homes to those who can demonstrate a local need - either that they are working in the area or already live in the area in a home which is not their own.#


From an EU perspective current Irish planning regulations are indefensible. If they allow Ireland to get away with them they'll undermine the entire premise on which the EU is based, as well as opening the floodgates to rather more blatent racism elsewhere in Europe. After all, if the Irish rules are legal what's to stop French property developers only selling to French citizens who can prove family residency before France left Algeria, Germans not selling to Turks or even an Irish developer marketing a block of flats in London as 'Irish Only'?

Presumably the government knows this. So why are they wasting taxpayers money trying to defend this when they should be passing legislation to outlaw the practice? Blatant political cowardice perhaps?

1 comment:

atlanticconnectivityalliance said...

The requirement is a total joke anyway. What is the standard of irish you need? There's isn't even agreement amongst translators, speakers, and academics on grammar. And the official Irish grammar book is way out of date. Make it up as they go along as usual: