Kerry County Council seriously breached the language provisions of the Planning and Development Act 2000.
That’s the finding of An Coimisinéir Teanga’s annual report for 2019, which was released today.
An Coimisinéir Teanga works to promote and safeguard the Irish language.
An investigation found Kerry County Council didn’t implement a language condition, to protect the use of Irish in the Gaeltacht.
An Bord Pleanála had attached this condition to planning permission granted for a housing development in Baile an Fheirtéaraigh.
An Coimisinéir Teanga’s Rónán Ó Domhnaill, says this was a very serious breach.
In 2005 An Bord Pleanála attached the condition to the planning permission, it was implemented to protect the language and cultural heritage of this Gaeltacht area.
Under this agreement, 75% or 12 of houses built were to be provided to people and long-term tenants who showed a reasonable fluency in Irish.
In 2017, a member of the public made a complaint alleging the council didn’t implement this condition.
It was the first time this type of investigation was carried out by An Coimisinéir Teanga; it found the language condition was referenced in the agreement between the council and developer, however, “there were fundamental faults in this agreement that rendered it not fit for purpose”.
No legal or practical arrangements were in place to ensure the council was informed when ownership was transferred; the reports states the council did write to the developer’s solicitor requesting the details of the estate agent and details of those who purchased the houses on more than one occasion, and states the council didn’t received it.
No long-term occupier was ever interviewed to determine their fluency in Irish, according to the report.
An Coimisinéir Teanga recommends Kerry County Council establishes procedures for cases whereby a language requirement is attached to planning permission and that the council inform its office of any planning permission granted in the Kerry Gaeltacht for three houses or more for the next five years.