Maybe the time has come to stop torturing our own people

Country Living with Francis Farragher

ELECTION count locations are unusual places to be: late nights, frenzied calculations, moments of elation and desperate disappointment all fusing together in a big hall which for the best part of two to three days – even longer for the ‘Europeans’ – is a world in itself.

The local elections, as the name implies, tend to be about the bread-and-butter issues such as houses, roads and services and now in the constantly evolving world of politics a new force has arrived on the scene in the shape of the Independent Ireland party.

Whether that means a shift to ‘the right’ is debatable but in interviews afterwards – especially with the poll toppers – one major issue kept being raised namely that of people in rural Ireland being able to build a house in their own area and close to their family circle.

Instead of the planning system being streamlined and made more affordable for young couples starting out in life, the task of trying to build a house in rural Ireland seems to be getting more hazardous and expensive with each passing day.

Phrases like ‘stop torturing our own people’ and ‘give young people a chance to make a start in life’ kept being mentioned by councillors but if that will of the people is so strong among our elected representatives, why is this not translating into a more customer friendly experience for those embarking on the biggest financial venture of their lives.

It does beg the question of whether we have created an out-of-control monster with our planning process which seems to be outside the jurisdiction of the people we elect to reflect the feelings of the people. The notion that people and families should be flocked together into small towns and villages is a complete non-runner as most of those locations don’t have the waste-water treatment plants in place to allow for such development.

One rural councillor I spoke to after being elected pointed to the virtue of having extended family living in close proximity to one another whether it be grandparents picking up children from school or in caring and giving a feeling of security of people entering into their later years.

The whole immigration issue is one too that reared its head in the run-up to the elections and while no Irish person who has ever read their history can forget that we once were those travellers, some kind of basic law-and-order principles and common-sense has to be brought into the debate.

Pictured: A house in the country . . . why not?


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