Echo Letters: Minister ‘has no intention of engaging with people of Tallaght’

Dear Editor,

I READ a letter which The Echo published in its August 4 edition.

The letter was entitled ‘Planning guidelines and appeals procedures’. The letter under reference REP 1022/SC/16 was a response sent by the private secretary of the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to Mr Aidan Thomas.

The response was addressing a letter which Mr Thomas had sent to the Minister. Mr Thomas’s letter highlighted the plight of Tallaght as a result of continually poor and unjust planning decisions affecting our localities over the years.

Old Bawn - Ahearns 3

Firstly let me thank both The Echo and Mr Thomas for publishing same.

I believe it is important that the people of Tallaght see responses sent by government to representations made by private residents hoping to improve communities around Tallaght.

The response itself, unfortunately, was an exercise in ‘cut and paste’. The words ‘Dear Mr Thomas’ were copied into the ‘standard response’ sent to people who are good enough to take an interest in writing to government with a view to helping with decision-making at higher levels.

In saying this, we the people of Tallaght, are ‘experts’ about our own localities. We know them best.

In fact, I’m quietly happy that Mr Thomas decided to send the response to The Echo.

It reveals what government perceives to be the role of the community in planning procedures.

A zero role. For me it proves that our new minister Mr Coveney has absolutely no intention of engaging with the people of Tallaght regarding local planning, etc.

The response is cowardly and disrespectful to the people of Tallaght.

The response says . . . your letter, Mr Thomas, is really of no concern to me. This is very sad considering how President Higgins speaks so passionately and regularly about the importance of community in today’s society.

The response actually reminds me of the responses I used to get from the private secretary to former Health Minister Mary Harney.

I used to highlight issues which I experienced about ten years ago in the health service.

The words used in responses sent to me were ‘. . . under The Health Act of 2004, the HSE is charged with the . . .’. I received those type of letters so often.

Washing their hands. Mr Coveney is washing his hands of attempts to engage with planning in Tallaght?

I watched the RTÉ programme ‘Reeling in the Years’ just after the August bank holiday.

The year featured was 1973. There was a brief interview with a Ballymun community leader.

To paraphrase his words – he said that things in Ballymun were relatively okay in 1973, however, there is a potential issue if the government didn’t build facilities for a developing population. 

The government didn’t listen, the government didn’t build facilities in Ballymun and the community was severely affected by drug issues.
This is what local authorities do really well. Build housing units, fail to build proper integrated facilities, and then fund charitable organisations who end up trying to ‘fix’ the social problems resulting.

I ask if our own Tallaght Minister Zappone is proud or even satisfied regarding the response which Mr Coveney’s private secretary sent to Mr Thomas? I call on Minister Zappone to represent our views at cabinet.

What is the point in having a minister if they ‘fob’ us off via civil service responses?

Minister Coveney, I’m asking that you correctly address the concerns of the people in Tallaght and stop hiding behind ‘cut and paste’ responses issued by your private secretary.

(Name and address with editor)

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