Friday 19 July 2019

Long-term vision to be welcomed after poor planning of the past

Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan. Photo: Tom Burke
Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan. Photo: Tom Burke

Shona Murray

Labour's Jan O'Sullivan described the Government's National Development Plan as a "cock-up".

She was largely criticising the procedural bit when she asked "how can this plan be on a statutory basis if it is agreed and published before the law to put it on a statutory basis is passed?"

Meanwhile, others have questioned the State's ability to deliver on its promises - while some point out a few of the announcements are merely repackaged plans from way before. All of these concerns are relevant and the Government is obliged to respond to them satisfactorily. Notwith-standing the points made by planners and economists about viability and delivery, the fact that there is a vision for Ireland for at least the next decade and further is most welcome.

The plan is two-fold. It is a 20-year National Planning Framework and a 10-year National Development Plan.

Throughout, it acknowledges that one million more people will live in this country in 20 years' time and that considerable development and upgrade of infrastructure is vital to make Ireland an attractive place to live.

It takes into account the requirements for a decent standard of living for all.

It is on the money because Ireland has historically failed abysmally when it comes to planning.

Up until recently, planning in Ireland has been ad hoc and ill-thought-out, and in some cases, deeply corrupt.

The plan also realises that less populated parts of the country are like that for a reason, and opens up the potential of towns such as Athlone, Drogheda and Dundalk.

In line with the State's global outlook, particularly after Brexit, there is €22bn for tackling climate change. Ireland has been criticised as a "laggard" on this matter, so no doubt the Government's inclination to defend its carefully crafted image was a lead influencer on this. Nonetheless, it is another example of the mature, outward-looking republic that Ireland is evolving into.

The State has lost out on serious lucrative investments from companies seeking to relocate after Brexit. The dearth of housing and incomplete infrastructure have been highlighted as the main concerns for decision-makers.

This Government's plan won't make Ireland much more attractive overnight, but at least it can say it may not be like this forever.

Irish Independent

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