The current Development Plan, 2005-2010 has a provision that allows priests houses to be zoned Education and Community Facilities.
The Diocesan Trustees of Galway has now sought a reversal of this policy for the new City Development Plan 2011-2017.
In a submission on the Galway City Draft Development Plan, the Diocesan Trustees have appealed to planners to ensure that private houses occupied by priests are zoned residential, “like any other residence occupied by a citizen of the State” and “not subject to other zoning descriptions” such as Education and Community Facilities.
In the submission they say it is, “unfair, unjust, inadequate and unreasonable” to zone a residence occupied by a priest other than residential.
The Education and Community Facilities zoning, rather than residential, effectively means that insurance companies, and utilities (eg ESB, Eircom, Bord Gáis) treat the priests differently to other residential properties, which “compounds the discrimination”, according to the submission.The submission was made for priests houses all over the city, including Mervue, Salthill, Ballybane, Nuns Island, Renmore, Ballinfoile, Presentation Road, Knocknacarra and Seamus Quirke Road.