Planning restrictions that are being enforced will "close down rural Ireland" it was alleged this week. At the April meeting of the West Mayo Municipal District, the councillors were informed that a planning application for a house in Achill was up for refusal as it did not meet the guidelines laid down in the county development plan. The councillors were told that the house would impinge on the scenic nature of the area.
Fianna Fáil, Achill based councillor Paul McNamara said: "We raise this at every meeting, it's one a month now for Achill, we're having one application a month turned down now in the Achill area over the scenic route. We're asking all the visitors to come along and visit us, but we won't let our own locals live in the area." Cllr McNamara outlined the history of the location and made a passionate plea in the case saying, "Now we're saying no more. All we want down here is tourists and buses with visitors, and the birds coming in from Keel island and the sheep. No more locals, because that is exactly what we are saying and that's the reality of it. That knock-on effect over a period of three or four years and that will mean at least 20 families will not settle in the parish of Achill because of decisions made by Mayo County Council. We can butter it up however you want but this is the second time in two months we've had a refusal to protect the area for the wildlife and scenic views. Unless something is done about it we won't even see people make applications to try and live and build in Achill. Mayo County Council will get what they are trying to promote — to close down rural Ireland and move everybody into Castlebar, Westport and Claremorris and forget about rural Ireland, it'll be gone in 20 or 30 years and that's what we are trying to do as far as I'm concerned. They want to cut off the lifeline that keeps a community going from generation to generation, they are closing the book and saying no more, so what's the effect going to be. The effect will be there will be no families whatsoever in these areas."
Fine Gael councillor Gerry Coyle added, "They used to say in America if you were born on the wrong side of the tracks you had no chance, what we're saying here is that if you are born on the wrong side of the road with the sea behind you, you've no chance at all either.