Thursday 24 August 2017

Ireland's potential - urban or rural - must be unlocked

A debate on development is needed - but we mustn't allow it to turn into a fight between the country and cities, says Eamon O Cuiv

‘Mr Moran appears to make the mistake of believing that people exist to serve the economy.’ Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney
‘Mr Moran appears to make the mistake of believing that people exist to serve the economy.’ Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Eamon O Cuiv

In last week's Sunday Independent, John Moran, former General Secretary in the Department of Finance, called for a public debate regarding spatial development in Ireland. I am in complete agreement on this and will be proposing in the coming Dail session that the new Dail committee with responsibility for regional and rural affairs examine this matter and issue a report on its findings. I look forward to John Moran presenting his views before this committee.

Unlike Mr Moran, I have never viewed urban development and rural development as being a choice of one or the other - but instead as being complementary. The fundamental premise of policymaking should be to ensure that citizens have as good a standard of living and quality of life as possible, while recognising the reality that it is of course not possible to make available to rural dwellers all of the services and amenities that are enjoyed by city dwellers.

However, people should always remember that we live on a small island, in geographic terms. For this very reason, it should be possible to ensure that all communities have top-class basic services such as water, roads, broadband, basic health and educational services, while also being able to develop innovative urban development programmes and 'living cities' for those people who choose to live in them.

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