Cross-party scaremongering on the unpublished National Planning Framework is amateur hour from a would-be coalition, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Rural and Community Development, Clare TD Joe Carey, said it is strange that there should be a position already formed and publicised against a document that has yet to be finalised.
Deputy Carey said: “Rather than engaging with the draft National Planning Framework it is disappointing to see the Deputies scaremongering regarding the plan.
“They should have submitted their views when the public consultation was open and extended.
“In September, the Government published the National Planning Framework, “Ireland 2040 – Our Plan” for its final round of public consultation.
“Until November 10th any member of the public had the chance to review this long term strategic planning framework for our country’s future growth and prosperity.
“The contribution of Alan Kelly, Michael Fitzmaurice, Eamon O’Cuiv and Eoin O’Broin is noted along with the other 1,050 submissions received.
“But I must point out it would have been much easier for them to submit their views online or by writing to the Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government directly within the timeframe specified, instead of organising what is clearly just a publicity stunt almost three months later.
“Minister Eoghan Murphy stated clearly that engagement from the public and the Oireachtas is crucial to the plan and the many contributions will feed into the final document.
“Minister Murphy’s door has been open the whole time. I spoke with him directly regarding my own views on the draft plan and he was more than happy to take them on board.
“It should also be noted that the Taoiseach was down in the Mid-West in recent weeks where he engaged with regional stakeholders and listened to ideas from local people.
“If the deputies had actually taken time to read the draft plan that is still being worked on, they would find that it specifically recognises the continuing need for housing provision for people to live and work in Ireland’s rural areas.
“Large sections of the plan are devoted to rural growth and ensuring that our wider rural hinterlands reverse the recent population declines and are supported to grow and build a sustainable future.
“In addition, it states that careful planning is required to manage demand in our most accessible countryside around our cities and towns.”
Deputy Carey continued: “It should also be noted that the draft plan specifically states that remoter areas should benefit from a more flexible approach, particularly where it helps to sustain fragile communities.
“Perhaps it is worth recalling that in 2002 Fianna Fáil launched the National Spatial Strategy aimed at achieving what they termed ‘a better balance of social, economic and physical development across Ireland’.
“It proved to be an utter failure; the strategy did not have any alignment with national spending priorities and was undermined from the outset because the money was not being directed to the areas that were meant to be developed.
“It is unfortunate the deputies felt they needed to form a coalition and speak through the media instead of engaging directly with the consultation or indeed the Minister.
“It really is amateur hour.
“However we embrace discussion on this issue and will continue to work on finalising the plan. Fine Gael has been very constructive with concerns relating to rural Ireland.”