Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West Éamon Ó Cuív has accused An Taisce and the Government of continuing to undermine the entire viability rural Ireland.  He made the comments in response to the latest report from the heritage agency, which wants to stop the development of one-off housing and force families to move to villages and towns, rather than allowing them to settle in rural locations.

Deputy Ó Cuív commented, “Time and again An Taisce has tried to ride roughshod over the people of rural Ireland, in townlands and communities outside of towns and villages, with policies which are geared towards forced migration. 

“The agency has been persistent in its lobbying of the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government, consistently putting forward plans which enforce specific settlement plans on rural communities.  These “visions” serve only to dismantle rural living by limiting the ability of children to settle on the same land as their parents and making it more expensive to provide services to rural communities.  The organisation is trying to force people into towns and villages rather than allowing them stay in their own areas.

“An Taisce claims that rural Ireland is a critical resource for the post-carbon world, but at the same time it is completely undermining the point as it sets about dismantling communities, culture and sports clubs, leaving an ageing population with no supports for future generations.

“Rural Ireland must take a stand and refuse to accept autocratic decisions which are destroying some of the best voluntary organisations in the country.  An Taisce’s spatial planning strategy has only served to exacerbate problems in our towns and cities, leading to high deprivation levels in certain areas and increased social problems.  Many of these issues are as a result of bad planning.

“There needs to be a more cohesive and coherent approach to planning in both urban and rural areas.  We must create a more balanced society, which created vibrant urban spaces, while at the same time ensuring that this growth is not forced through at the expense of rural communities.

“Rural and urban housing policies should compliment and not compete with each other.  The idea that towns and villages in rural Ireland could survive without a rural population is farcical and shows a worrying lack of understanding about the dynamic of rural Ireland”.