Wednesday 20 June 2018

'2040' Planning Framework will 'kill rural Ireland' - TDs

Éamon Ó Cuív. Photo: Frank McGrath
Éamon Ó Cuív. Photo: Frank McGrath
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

One of the most significant plans to come before the Dáil in recent times is at risk of rejection amid claims from Opposition TDs that it will kill rural Ireland.

Members of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Labour Party, along with some Independents, have united in protest at the National Planning Framework.

The 'Ireland 2040' plan, which is due to be launched in the coming weeks, sets out priorities for infrastructure investments in the years ahead.

Fine Gael TDs have already complained to Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy that a draft version is too focused on urban areas.

This view is now growing, with Labour's Alan Kelly saying the report is "generic" and "hugely flawed".

"We can't 'chock' up Dublin. Dublin has to be a liveable city. The North West of Ireland might as well be somewhere in outer space," he said.

Similarly, Fianna Fáil's Eamon Ó Cuiv questioned whether it was a plan for an economy or a country.

"Quality of life for our citizens is the ultimate measure," he said, adding: "It pushes resources into urban areas and expects people to follow the resources."

If Fianna Fáil does not support the final report when it comes before the Dáil, it could threaten the stability of the confidence and supply arrangement with Fine Gael.

Mr Ó Cuiv raised the issue at a meeting of party spokespeople earlier this week.

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice said regional development has become a "buzzword" but there was "no real interest of everywhere working together".

And Sinn Féin's Eoin Ó Broin said his party had "deep concerns" and wants "substantial changes".

A spokesperson for Mr Murphy said it was "curious" that TDs would set out to oppose something they haven't yet seen.

"The public has been widely consulted on the NPF in the last number of months, including an extend period for submissions of which we receive 1,050," he said.

"Not only this but Minister Murphy has engaged extensively with his colleagues and we are confident that many of the issues raised by those who submitted observations will be addressed in the final document to be published in the coming weeks."

A special Cabinet meeting is to held next Monday where ministers will attempt to 'politically proof' the document.

Irish Independent

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