There are ‘sinister’ elements in government departments which are preventing the development of essential infrastructure west of the Shannon, and treating the population like ‘third class citizens’.
These claims were made by members of Mayo County Council during a discussion on the proposed 2040 National Planning Framework. The deadline for submissions for the new draft plan which is due to be adopted before the end of the year passed recently and councillors expressed concern that development in the west of Ireland will be neglected.
Submissions to the draft plan were made by Mayo County Council officials and Chief Executive Peter Hynes told councillors they need to lobby Oireachtas members to ensure the west is represented in the plan.
However, there were claims made by Fianna Fáil councillor Al McDonnell and Sinn Féin councillor Gerry Murray that senior civil servants were determined to destroy rural Ireland.
“It has become absolutely clear that there is an on going sinister campaign to destroy rural Ireland,” claimed Cllr McDonnell.
“We have taken them on in the past and know the forces involved. The people who are determined to destroy rural Mayo are behind this document. If this document becomes the final document we can forget about it. We can forget about our rural development plan and concerns for rural Ireland.”
Charlestown-based councillor Gerry Murray told the meeting he was briefed ‘on and off the record’ on the National Planning Framework two weeks ago and what he was told concerned him.
“The reason there is such resistance to [the development of] Knock Airport and the Western Rail Corridor, particulaly in the Department of Transport, is that if they get into the National Planning Framework, they will have statutory entitlement for funding. That is where the resistance is coming from and it is absolutely extraordinary. We were briefed on and off the record and I don’t mind saying it but their [department officials] attitude towards people living west of the Shannon is bordering on racism. We are being reduced to third class citizens,” he said
Mr Hynes told the meeting that officials in the Department of Transport are sympathetic to them and did not want all department officials tarred with the same brush. He said that they will continue to lobby to include a growth centre for the north-west which the current document does not plan for.
“If you see map of the country with the growth centres as they are drawn as they are, where we live north of the Galway and Dublin line it is just blank and cannot be allowed to be blank. It is imperative that we get a growth centre into this region to drive the whole region,” he said.