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Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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05/06/06
Who Runs The Planning Office?

F.A.I.R. would like to ask that the government investigate the planning department over issues evident in South Armagh properties. Over the past number of years, it is evident that many Protestants and Roman Catholics have had planning permission denied because of the slightest technicalities. At the same time other more unsavoury elements of the community seem to build as they please without planning office interference. A number of our members have asked us to investigate the possibility of discrimination, especially if the client was a member of the security forces.

After investigation was made, F.A.I.R. has confirmed the allegations to be true. Moreover the allegations made to F.A.I.R. were an underestimation compared with the truth of the extent of discrimination apparent. While some South Armagh properties were clearly in breach of skyline development guidelines, others were not built in accordance with the planning permission given. Most surprising of all was the appearance of some buildings, which do not appear to have any planning permission whatsoever. These revelations are not solely evident in residential properties, but also in commercial properties in South Armagh.

F.A.I.R. demands that an urgent enquiry be made to establish how buildings belonging to some people can just appear without planning permission, while others are turned down over small technicalities. It would appear that planning permission and enforcement relevance is dependent on what connections to Republicanism the client has. It would appear that when Planning Officers and Building Control Officers attended some of the properties in question, they were intimidated on occasions by hooded gunmen just as NIE meter board readers and TV Licensing men were. This is an unacceptable set of circumstances, given that planning regulations are normally so tightly adhered to and enforced, regardless of the background of clients. In addition to the call for a government enquiry, we also intend to make the Equality Commission aware of these matters for their own investigations.

 



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