Clare TD Timmy Dooley has described the Government’s National Planning Framework as an abysmal and doomed effort to address regional economic imbalances and growing chaos in the capital.
Intended as a blueprint for how Ireland will be developed up to 2040, Deputy Dooley lashed out at the first draft of the plan saying, “not alone will the NPF fail to address the economic imbalance between east and west, it will, in fact, deepen the divide.”
He added, “In producing this document, its principal authors An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and his senior ministers are pumping more and more investment, jobs and infrastructure in the Greater Dublin region. It’s no coincidence that all of these ministers: Donohoe, Fitzgerald, Murphy and Ross are all Dublin based.
“The last Environment Minister, Simon Coveney, made the case that 70% of Ireland’s future population growth would come services, investment, jobs and infrastructure. This offered a glimmer of hope to communities across regional and rural Ireland.
“The opposite, it seems, will now happen. It wouldn’t be a major leap for some to believe that once Minister Coveney ran out the door of his last Department, the Dublin-based members of government saw their opportunity to dramatically change the focus of this framework.
“It’s simply unacceptable and bordering on ludicrous to allow a situation where the Greater Dublin area will grow by up to half a million people during that period while the second, third, fourth and fifth cities of our State will get less than half of that between them.
“Dublin is bursting at its seams. We can see the pressure on housing, transport and education. Quality of life is weakening in our capital, and piling on another half a million people won’t improve the situation for anyone.”
Deputy Dooley believes that the draft National Planning Framework is indifferent to the needs of rural and regional Ireland. “Take my own county of Clare,” he said, “we’ve watched in envy as jobs flow into the cities, particular Dublin. At the same time, we’re losing people, we’re losing doctors, post offices, and our GAA clubs are struggling to keep going.
“We have an international airport in Clare with a capacity for 4 million passengers per year, yet just 1.7million came through its doors last year. Over 40% of US FDI is within the catchment of Shannon Airport and of the 16 FDI announcements in the Mid-West region last year, all companies specifically noted Shannon Airport as a key factor in their investment decisions.
“Yet, in creating an independent Shannon Airport, this government has allowed it to be at the mercy of a monopolist Dublin Airport that has grown its market share to 85% over recent years, eating into Shannon’s, and every other airport’s market.
“What does the NPF propose under the heading aviation, a key area for stimulating economic development? It outlines proposals only for Dublin Airport, namely the development of additional runway and terminal facilities as well as the Metro-North.
“The Framework’s designers have attempted to be very clever by breaking Ireland down into three regions. By placing Dublin in the East and Midland’s region, it’s a deliberate attempt to hide the capital’s growing domination of Ireland’s economic output.
“The Government needs to go back to the drawing board and come back with a truly balanced framework that allows regional and rural Ireland to act a safety valve on Dublin. “Anything else will only further exacerbate the crises in housing, education and transport across our country,” said Timmy Dooley.