Wednesday, 13 March 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
First, I want to register what could be perceived as a conflict of interest, as always, in matters such as this. I wish to highlight a local and national issue. A very respectable family left Ballinskelligs in south Kerry, went to America and worked very hard, became successful employers who created valued and great employment for people who left our shores and went to America. That family wanted to do something good for Kerry and their country. They owned a small place called Cable O'Leary's, a lovely public house and restaurant. They wanted to demolish it and build a modest, 45-bedroom hotel in its place. It was a well thought out hotel in a nice location. Kerry County Council, which I could not support more, and our excellent planners looked at what was proposed in the plans and, in their wisdom, said yes. This was good for the area of south Kerry, for Kerry and for Ireland. This family was not going to be borrowing money. They did not want anything from Government; they wanted nothing from no one. All they wanted was the right to build and develop a good quality hotel where people from the locality and around the country could go to have weddings, funeral parties, christenings and a great focal point in Ballinskelligs. They got their planning permission and, lo and behold, there was an objection. That objection went to An Bord Pleanála. For the sake of €200 - a miserable, rotten price - the objectors were able to take this respectable family to An Bord Pleanála which, in its infinite wisdom, took away the planning permission that was thoughtfully granted by Kerry County Council. It has robbed the community of employment, a focal point and a place for people to go to. This has happened many times throughout the country.
Apple did not invest €850 million in Athenry. Everything was going smoothly for that investment of almost €1 billion. What happened? Apple was hunted out of Athenry, Galway and Ireland because of objectors. The Tánaiste will know these things in his heart and soul. It is good to be asking questions of a person of substance and ability who can answer. He knows my feelings on that. I am glad to see the Tánaiste sitting there and the longer he sits there the better it might be. In the name of God, what action is going to be taken to deal with the planning process? How are we going to root out these serial objectors, these do-gooders who are good for nothing? These people never did anything or created anything in their lives, only wrote a stupid piece of paper and gave €20 to a local authority or €200 to An Bord Pleanála. There are people in An Bord Pleanála who will go against everything - Government policy, local authority policy, elected Members and members of our county councils who are democratically elected. These people will throw all that out the window and rob us.