Last year’s figure is in sharp contrast to the mid-2000 numbers when more than 3,500 applications were lodged five years in a row, from 2002 to 2006.
Indeed, the county’s building boom reached its peak in 2006 when 3,954 applications were submitted to Mayo Co Council’s planning office.
Although the peak was reached in 2006, the building boom continued at a furious pace in 2007 when 3,411 applications were submitted.
The steep decline that commenced in 2008 (2,193 applications) now looks like it will bring the construction industry in Mayo back to levels not seen since the early 1990s.
Hynes notes in his report that there has been a virtual collapse in the area of housing developments comprising more than one house, with a mere 22 applications up to the end of October 2010. There has also been a substantial increase in the number of applicants seeking extensions of existing planning permits.
“This is also a consequence of the downturn in the economy as applicants require more time to secure finance to commence and complete developments,” says Hynes.
- Western People
Psychiatric patients drugged
Psychiatric patients are being sedated because of low staffing levels, Mental Health Minister John Moloney admitted.
Moloney also expressed concern about the long-term consequences of certain addictive drugs being given to patients and accepted they played an increasing role in poisoning deaths.
Asked if it was true that lack of staff had led to "troublesome" patients being sedated, Moloney indicated the staff recruitment moratorium was partly to blame.
"Yeah... I read that... and I saw where maybe it had been offered, that the use of these drugs was by way of defective staffing levels being reduced. Yes there are difficulties by way of staffing levels and this would be by way of the moratorium," he told national broadcaster RTE.
Moloney said he was drawing up measures to tighten prescription rules regarding drugs like benzodiazepines.
"I’m opposed to the whole notion of using them long term. I’ve been moving on protocols on how and when we should use them," he said.
Moloney agreed the drugs had been cited as a factor in an increasing number of poisoning deaths. Alarm about the widespread use of sedatives in psychiatric hospitals has been raised by mental health experts, who called for an urgent review of the situation.
The Inspector of Mental Health Services recorded that in some hospitals as many as 80% of long-term patients were being prescribed sedatives, also known as benzodiazepines. These are prescription drugs used to treat a range of conditions such as anxiety, insomnia and seizures.
Though thought to be safe for short-term use, the risk of overuse, abuse and dependence has been well documented in medical reviews. On the huge VHI price rises announced last week, Moloney denied the Government had taken its eye off the ball, but he admitted "shock" at the move.
The minister also admitted failings in providing services for vulnerable children, particularly those with mental health issues, but claimed the situation was improving.
"There’s no point pretending all in the garden is rosy," he said.
- Irish Examiner