Echo letters: It’s over to you now, Minister Coveney!

Dear Minister,

IT WAS never my intention to find myself writing to a minister three times within three weeks, or have letters in The Echo in successive weeks. However, an email from the minister, and a report in The Irish Times changed all that.

In last Friday’s Irish Times it stated “Minister for Housing Simon Coveney has stymied plans for the development of more than 365 houses in North Kildare, about 10km from the Dublin border. Mr Coveney has ordered Kildare County Council to reverse its decision to rezone lands near Sallins.

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He said Sallins had been excessively zoned for housing in the past, and there was a need to ensure planning was properly planned.

“I have responsibility to ensure the excessive zoning that occurredin the past in some parts of the country is not repeated, that there was a need to ensure housing was properly planned”.

Now compare to the “cut and paste” response I received on the 2nd August stating “the day-to-day operation of the planning system is however a matter for the planning authorities”.

What’s going on? Government is as changeable as the traffic lights in their decision-making, depending on the area they are dealing with. The minister said Sallins had been excessively zoned for housing in the past, and there was a need to ensure planning was properly planned.

Do the same standards apply to Tallaght? If not, why not? Let me say loud and clear to you the standards you speak of do not exist in Tallaght.

Tallaght has been misled by the ministers response. One rule for Sallins, and another for Tallaght. Also, in the ‘Sallins camp’ is Mount Merrion, and Ballymore Eustace where permission for 300 houses is being applied for comprising 3- and 4-bedroom houses and also detached houses. Not a mention of a social house.

Minister, how can you justify 184 apartments in Cookstown and 80 social houses in an infill in an area already overladen with social housing. There are many fingerprints on planning decisions in Tallaght. They seem to have no vision of community and society. Have you a vision? For us living in Tallaght official policy seems to be – build as many social developments as possible, be it houses, apartment blocks, but you daren’t touch the pet affluent areas in South County Dublin.

It’s a “mortal sin”. As I have said many times every parish/community must take its fair share. For a country who prides itself as Christian – it’s called Christian sharing –Tallaght has been targeted for huge social housing development. I find it incredible that the so-called experts are so out of touch in their planning decisions when it comes to Tallaght. As an area we do not rate. They are blind to good planning.

Tallaght has been massively discriminated against by governments, housing ministers, and local authorities. It is fact. The double standards are mind boggling. Remember minister when you are gone we live with your legacy, and you have no guarantee you will be minister next year. Like so many others you are just passing through.

We could write a book on governments, housing ministers, and council CEO’s legacies in Tallaght when so many planning mistakes were made, and nothing has changed. They never learned from the mistakes, nor did they want to.

Minister, what’s preventing you intervening in Tallaght? We are dealing with the South Dublin County Council who have no vision or plan, and ignore the views of the people and communities who live here. We don’t exist in their eyes.

Most of senior management in the SDCC do not live in Tallaght, nor would they agree or allow the Tallaght developments in their own communities. Not in my backyard.

How can you say “not my problem” when Tallaght has the nine most deprived, and the 22 very disadvantaged communities in South County Dublin, and then the Terenure Halting site located in Tallaght?

Where is the justice and equality in these facts and figures? You have a better chance of communicating with the Prime Minister of North Korea than the senior management in the SDCC.

They may sit opposite you, but their decisions are signed, sealed, and settled in their pockets. In your “cut and paste” response you refer to the bodies one can refer to. Well let me tell you they are nothing more than further layers of bureaucracy, and are all in the same club.

There is right and wrong in life, and what the establishment did in planning in Tallaght is blatantly wrong. I believe in equality, dignity, justice, an environment that gives a meaning to one’s life, and a sense of belonging.

The opposite happened in many parts of Tallaght. I have my own baggage, and faults that you could fill 100 rubbish bins with, but I pray that I never allow myself to be sucked into a rotten, snobby system that sacrifices these values.

Now Minister, to again quote your own words: “I have responsibility to ensure the excessive zoning that occurred in the past in some parts of the country is not repeated, that there was a need to ensure housing was properly planned.”

You have a moral responsibility to apply these same standards to Tallaght, the victim of the greatest planning disasters in the history of the state. Your “cut and paste” response is an insult to the people of Tallaght on such serious issues. Tallaght never got a fair deal.

How come you see excess zoning in Sallins, and not in Tallaght with the greatest over-development in the state.
Yours sincerely,

Aidan Thomas, Bancroft.

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