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Tuesday 24 April 2018

Long-term planning should not be shelved for short-sighted cuts, conference hears

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

PARTY politics need to be put aside to support long-term planning which will aid our economic recovery, a conference heard this morning.

President of Engineers Ireland, Michael Phillips, told its annual conference that some politicians did not realise that cutbacks in the wrong areas could cause "severe damage" to competitiveness.

Local and party politics needed to be put aside for the good of our national recovery, he said.

"Our elected politicians who represent us at a national and local level often find themselves torn by constituency politics and demands on the capital investment purse.

"Their term of office is a mere five years or maybe more if they're lucky.  As engineers, we develop strategic plans for infrastructure to operate for 80 to 100 years.

"For the good of our national recovery, we need to leave aside local or party politics, short-term thinking and start to plan for recovery."

The conference, being held in the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin, also heard from Irish Water managing director John Tierney, the former Dublin City manager.

He said there were "severe capacity constraints" in some parts of the country after decades of under-investment in the sector.

Changing perceptions about how much it cost to produce water was one of the greatest challenges Irish Water faced, he added.

Meanwhile, the conference also heard that much of the poor water quality was caused by water treatment plants in urban areas.

Laura Burke from the EPA said  "substantial improvements" were needed over the next five years for Ireland to meet EU targets on clean water quality.

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