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Councillor Cillian Murphy asked for a breakdown of all the services offered, and the staffing levels relevant to each of those services.

Murphy: ‘For God’s sake are we just going to sit back here?’

POPULATION projections in the forthcoming County Development Plan have been described as “utterly redundant”, on foot of new Census data. 

Addressing the July meeting of the local authority, Councillor Cillian Molloy pointed to figures showing a population increase in Clare of 7.2% since 2016.

Meanwhile, the plan allows growth of 9.94% up to 2029. In light of that, Councillor Murphy had asked that clarity be sought from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR). Referring to a response from the OPR, which said it had no comment to make, Councillor Murphy was sharply critical. 

“We have already reached 75% of our future projected population growth out to 2029 even  before submissions to the draft have been taken into consideration and the unelected body, who will run a rule over what we are told repeatedly is our County Development Plan, will not offer us any clarity as to what we can do in the circumstances. That is not at all ok, and it is not at all ok that this Council would accept such lack of commentary.

“The recent change in population information from the CSO is a significant material alteration of the assumptions used to plan for how this county will develop over the next development plan timeframe.

“We know our population grew by 7%, we know the amount of houses only grew by 4%,” he told the meeting, “so we are already building far less houses than we need. We are now looking forward and not planning to correct that. Instead, we are basing the future housing supply need for this county using demonstrably flawed figures.

“This means we will not address the housing crisis being experienced now, and worse, we will compound it, not through lack of knowledge, which might be forgivable, but in spite of having that knowledge, through blind adherence to policy directives based on information we know to be flawed. For God’s sake, are we just going to sit back here?”

Councillor Pat Hayes said: “The big heavy hand from outside organisations is clearly evident. A difficult period will be coming up to resolve issues around the plan.”

Support also came from Councillor Gerry Flynn, Councillor Joe Garrihy, Councillor Joe Killeen, Councillor PJ Ryan and Councillor PJ Kelly, who said he did not believe the allocation system is legal or constitutional. 

Chief Executive Pat Dowling noted that the 1,015 valid submissions had been received on the draft plan. He also flagged the publication of the Chief Executive’s Report which sets out the submissions, responses and recommendations. 

In a written response, Senior Planner Helen Quinn said the report had taken the preliminary Census figures into account. She added that there would be “ample opportunity for the members to engage in discussions relating to the CSO census data, the Housing Supply Target Methodology and the quantum of zoning to be included in the upcoming development plan over the coming months.”

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