Planáil i nGaeltacht na Gaillimhe
Planning proposals make it easier - and harder - to live in the Gaeltacht

A new policy aimed at making it easier for people who will make positive contributions to Gaeltacht areas of Connemara to get planning permission there, is now being proposed in a bid to strengthen the linguistic and cultural heritage of the area.

However, in order to counterbalance this more 'liberalised' planning approach, a 15-year enurement clause - as opposed to the seven years imposed in other parts of the county - would be attached to single houses built under this policy, restricting the sale of these rural homes to certain conditions during this timeframe.

The move has already caused tensions amongst Connemara Councillors who have taken different stands, which quickly became evident at this week's meeting ofGalway County Council.

Independent Councillor Seosamh Ó Cuaig voted for the increased I 5-years "no sale" clause as did Fianna Fáil Councillor Seán Ó Tuairisg. PD Councillor Thomas Welby also voted for the increase as did Fine Gael's Sean Kyne. However, Séamus Walsh and Josie Conneely - both Fianna Fáil- voted against the longer clause.

Cllr. Connie Ní Fhatharta.....did not support 15 year enurement.
Councillor Connie Ní Fhlatharta made a statement saying she had nothing to do with the efforts to increase the "no sale" clause to 15 years. She abstained when the vote was called.

During the meeting this week, councillors held a lengthy debate - mostly in Irish - on the new draft Gaeltacht Local Area Plan.

The first of its kind in the country, the plan aims at ensuring the Gaeltacht -whose language and culture are under threat due to the transformations that any active community undergoes changes in a positive way, without Iosing the unique elements that define it, according to Director of Planning, Paul Ridge.

"The policies [within the plan] are put together so a positive image is created for the language and for the Gaeltacht, and also so an opportunity is given to the Gaeltacht to develop as a special region."

One policy included in the plan - the Neartú Gaeltachta, or 'Strengthening of the Gaeltacht' policy - is aimed at making it easier for people who can make positive contributions to the Gaeltacht to get planning permission in the area. According to the proposed policy, the linguistie and cultural heritage of the Gaeltacht would be promoted by being "favourably disposed" toward people looking for planning permission who can prove they fali into one of three categories.

These include local people, and people who are either employed, self-employed or creating employment in the Gaeltacht (irrespective of whether or not they speak Irisb); returning emigrants from the area and their immediate family; and Irish speakers who can demonstrate their ability to be a "long term asset to the traditional, cultural, arts, heritage and language networks of vibrant Gaeltacht communities."

The developments this policy will be applied to include one-off houses in the Gaeltacht areas west of the Corrib; and residential developments of two or more houses that are also west of the Con-ib, and outside the Galway Transport and Planning Study (GTPS).

But in order to counterbalance th's more 'liberal' approach in granting planning permission, a 15-year enurement clause has been recommended. This means that, within this 15-year time frame, the house can only be sold to someone who also falls under the categories specified under Neartú Gaeltachta. After that time, however, it can be sold onto anyone.

"We want to ensure that houses built under this new, more liberal regime wiIl be used for the purpose for which they were granted - mainly to strengthen the Gaeltacht," Mr. Ridge explained to the Connacht Tribune. "We feel that the 15 year enurement will achieve this."

However, some Connemara area councillors raised concerns about the length of this clause.

Councillor Connie Ní Fhatharta (FF) said that, while she believes language enurement clauses should be put on homes within housing estates - as these are usually bought by people from outside the Gaeltacht - she could not support putting 15 year enurement clauses on single houses, as these would usually be built by locals.

Councillor Josie Coneely (FF) said that there was no way he could agree with a 15 year enurement, and put a motion forward to change it to seven years, which is currently the length of time specified under the County Development Plan for enurement clauses.

This was seconded by Cllr. Séamus Walsh (FF), who questioned how the council would 'sell" 15 year enurement clauses to the Gaeltacht community.

However, this proposai was defeated by a vote of seven to four, with one abstention.

Councillor Seosamh Ó Cuaig (Ind) said he was in favour of putting out the proposai as is, and getting the public's feedback on it.

Councillor Tom Welby (PD) echoed a similar sentiment, pointing out that they were only dealing with a draft plan and changes could be made to it.

"It wiIl open a debate, and at least if we do get submissions, we'lI have an opportunity to discuss them," he said.

The draft Gaeltacht Local Area Plan wilI go back out on public display in three weeks' time for a month, during which time the public wiIl have a chance to make submissions on the document.

Carmello Maffeo: Cúradh Chonnachta 30/11/2007

80% of new houses in Gaeltacht ristricted ta Irish speakrs
Tightening up of the Language Condition in Conamara Gaeltacht

From next March a minimum of 80% of houses in new Gaeltacht housing schemes in the area from Na Forbacha to An Cheathrú Rua could be restricted to fluent Irish speakers, if the amendments adopted by Galway County Council to the Draft Development Plan for the Gaeltacht are implemented. The remaining 20% of houses in the schemes and new single houses in the Conamara Gaeltacht will be restricted to local people, people working locally, returned emigrants or their families and Irish speakers who wish to move to the Gaeltacht for a penod of 15 years.

At a marathon session on Monday 26th November. Galway Councillors dealt with a large number of amendments to the Draft Gaeltacht Plan, which were submitted by the public and various community organisations and government agencics after a period of consultation.

In aighneacht a chuir an Roinn Gnothaf Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta os comhair an Chomhairle Chontae, moladh go mbeadh 80% de na tithe sna scéimeanna tithe á theorannú do dhaoine le Gaeilge líofa. Ina tuainsc mhol an Bainisteoir Chontae, Martina Moloney, glacadh leis an srian 80% a bhí molta ag an Roinn don cheantar Gaeltachta is mó atá faoi bhrú: an ceantar óna Forbacha ag síneadh siar le cósta chomh fada siar leis an gCeathrú Rua. Mhol sí chomh maith nach mbeadh aon srian teanga ar thithe sna ceantracha a bhfuil brú orthu de bharr titim sa daonra: ceantar na nOileán, Camus, Ros Muc, Cill Chiaráin agus Carna. Ghlac an Chomhairle Chontae le srian ar 20% dena tithe i scéim ar bith a thógfaí i mBearna, Maigh Chuilinn agus Baile Chláir na Gaillimhe, ceantracha Gaeltachta nach bhfuil mórán Gaeilge iontu.

While the councillors unanimously accepted the 80% level of language restriction, proposed in its submission to the Council by Éamonn Ó Cuív's Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht affairs, there was some disagreement among the councillors about the imposition of a 15 year enurement clause on all new single houses built in the Conamara Gaeltacht. Councillor Josie Conneely, supported by Séamas Walshe proposed that the restriction on single houses be reduced to 7 years but none of the Gaeltacht councillors supported the proposal and their amendment was defeated when put to a vote. Councillor Conneely argued that it was unfair to impose a 15 year enurement clause in English speaking areas in Conamara such as Cashel and Inisnee, while other areas outside the Gaeltacht or in Gaeltacht areas east of Gaiway city would only have a 7 year restriction imposed. Councillor Connie Nf Fhátharta abstained when the proposal to impose the 15 year enurement was put to the vote, saying that while she agreed to the clause being applicable to houses built in estates, as these were more likely to be occupied by people from outside the Gaeltacht, she felt single dwelling developments should not be subject to the 15 year rule as these were most likely to be built by locals.

Councillor Seosamh O Cuaig said he was in favour of the 15 year rule and listening to the feedback from the public. Councillor Thomas welby agreed with this stance, saying they were dealing with a draft plan which could be amended at a later stage.

Ag fáilte roimh an athrú atá molta, dúirt Donncha Ó hÉallaithe ón eagraíocht Airdeail, go bhfuil mithuiscint ar dhaoine faoin srian atá molta. "Tá sé ráite ag daoine sna meáin nach mbeifear in ann na tithe a dhíol go ceann 15 bhliana. Nil sé seo fíor. Beifear in ann na tithe a dhíol am ar bith le margadh sách leathan: daoine áitiiila daoine atá ag iarraidh filleadh abhaile nó a gclann siúd, daoine atá ag obair ná ag cur fostaíocht ar fáil go háitiúil nó daoine le Gaeilge líofa atá ag iarraidh lonnú sa nGaeltacht. Faoin sean enurement clause ni fhéadfaf an teach a dhíol ar feadh 7 mbliana, mar nach raibh sé ceadaithe go mbeadh cónaí sa teach ach ag daoine muintearach leis an té a fuair an chead."

An amendment to the plan proposed by businessman Dónal Standúin, would have resulted in zoning the wooded lands of Spiddal Demesne, owned by Mr. Standún, for housing. The Manager's report to the Council suggested that the proposal warrants further examination to "assess the balance between benefits to the public in terms of access to the rivers, the provision of new streetscape, the construction of road linkages, and the beneficial gain to the landowner, as against the intrusion on the centuries-old characteristics of An Spidéal Demesne which would be irreversible." The Council accepted this and agreed to await the findings of a study into the proposed use of the lands around Spiddal House.

The amendments to the Draft Gaeltacht Plan will now go on public display and submissions will be invited from the public on the amendments, which will then be considered by the Galway County Council, before the final adoption of the Gaeltacht Development Plan, the provisions of which will come into force in March-next.

Glór Chonamara 30/11/2007

Reports in the Irish Language Media

Gaeltacht na Gaillimhe

Tom Welby
Tom Welby
Seán Ó Tuairisc
Seán Ó Tuairisc
Josie Conneely
Josie Conneely
Seamus Walsh
Seamus Walsh
Seosamh Ó Cuaig
Seosamh Ó Cuaig
Jim Cuddy
Jim Cuddy
Seán Kyne
Seán Kyne