The National Roads Authority (NRA) has been slammed for 'ripping the hearts out of rural communities' by opposing once-off housing development in Mayo. Councillor Blackie Gavin told a meeting of the Castlebar electoral area committee the NRA is responsible for the demise of several small parishes by blocking young couples from building homes for themselves. He said the authority
had effectively directed the council from granted planning permission to Colin Staunton from constructing a dwelling at Portroyal, Partry, because of its proximity to a national road.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Gavin hit out: "We have to stand up for people like Colm Staunton. He is a victim of an unjust planning system that has evolved during the stewardship of Environment Minister John Gormley. I am not one bit happy about it."
He was supported in his stand by Independent Councillor Frank Durcan.
"It is beyond the realms of reason that people are prevented from providing homes for themselves by State agencies.
"The Department of the Environment has to start realising the immense damage the NRA is causing in counties like Mayo. They are ripping the heart out of rural communities.
"There will be a revolution unless it's stopped. Those who are privileged can get planned. Those who are not must dance to the tune of the Dublin 4 brigade. People will have to start taking to the streets to bring a halt to what's going on."
A proposal to hold a site meeting was opposed by Seamus Granahan, director of services.
He explained the policy that allowed site meetings had been signed away by councillors when they requested that all planning applications earmarked for refusal would be brought before them in future.
Councillor Al McDonnell said he shared the views of his elected colleagues but, regrettably, the NRA is not for turning.
"Planning applications like the one in question are automatically referred to the NRA and the NRA automatically throws a spanner in the works.
"This council fought a battle last year to ensure our rural communities would not be turned into planning no-go areas. But now Minister Gormley has shut the door completely on us. It's a very sad day," he added.
Councillor Eugene McCormack, chairman, said while he agreed with the sentiments being expressed, he felt it would be wrong to give Mr. Staunton false hope.