Thursday 24 May 2018

Government accused of denying vote on planning laws

The framework sets out a long-term blueprint for the country over the next 20 years and is due to be published on Friday.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Michelle Devane, Press Association

The Government has been accused of rushing through the National Planning Framework (NPF) to deny the Opposition the chance to vote on it.

It sets out the long-term blueprint for the country over the next 20 years and is due to be published on Friday.

Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty said there was a clear requirement in the legislation for the Dail and the Seanad to approve such a document.

He asked: “Are you deliberately publishing the national planning framework on Friday before the final passage of the legislation in order to avoid a vote?”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said there was no requirement to subject either the national planning framework or the 10-year infrastructure plan to a vote of either House.

“The legislation you refer to anyway doesn’t say the final plan has to be approved by the House of the Oireachtas,” Mr Varadkar.

“What it says is the government shall submit the draft of the revised or new national planning framework together with the environmental report and the appropriate assessment report for the approval of each house of the Orireacht as before it is published, a requirement that the DRAFT be put before the house, D. R. A. F. T – not the final draft.”

Labour’s Brendan Howlin told the Taoiseach it was decided in 2016 that the Framework would be underpinned by a Dail vote.

Mr Varkdar said this was a classic case of opposition for opposition’s sake.

“It is a case of political parties, for political reasons, opposing a plan they have not even seen yet.

“The national planning framework will automatically go on a statutory footing.”

He added: “Even if the legislation to which deputies refer was passed, there would still not be a requirement for the final document to be passed by the Oireachtas. The requirement is for the draft to be passed by the Oireachtas.”

Mr Varadkar described the plan as a “real vision for the country of the future and for a much better place that we have now”.

“The Opposition is terrified of it,” he said.

The heated debate resulted in Ceann Comhairle Sean O’Fearghail threatening to suspend the Dail for a second time in two weeks.

Press Association

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