Fianna Fáil Cllr Al McDonnell has called for elected members to have some input into the drafting of development plans at an earlier stage than is allowed at present.
Cllr McDonnell made his call at the most recent meeting of the Castlebar Municipal District, after an item on development plans had been adjourned. He told the meeting that draft development plans were written by people who might be enemies of rural Ireland and that when draft development plans had come before the councillors in the past, they were "obliged as councillors to amend it to the point of mutilation. We have to do that in the public interest."
He went on to say that in his opinion it would save a lot of money, time, energy and anxiety if councillors were involved in the preparation of draft development plans, at least on a consultative basis.
Independent Cllr Michael Kilcoyne said that he agreed with Cllr McDonnell - but what was worse was that even when councillors did make changes to suit conditions in Mayo, the Minister could come in and refuse to accept those changes and had done so in the past. Cllr McDonnell replied that when it happened before the councillors fought back and would do so again.
Head of the district for Mayo County Council, Marie Crowley, told the members that: "The process for developing a development plan is set down in statute and it is a very tight process - but I will discuss your request with the forward-planning section of Mayo County Council who will be developing the plan."