Fine Gael in Government is planning for the Ireland of the future and it is time for opposition TDs and Senators to step up and implement the innovative Project Ireland 2040 plan instead of attempting to delay it for political advantage, Deputy Maria Bailey has said.
Chair of the Housing Committee and Dun Laoghaire TD Bailey said all sections of the Oireachtas were included in the mammoth consultation process for the National Planning Framework (NPF) and now must concentrate constructively on its implementation.
“Opposition politicians have had extensive time and opportunity to put their recommendations to this plan and I would hope they will now become involved in its implementation and rise above political populism of the past which led this country down a dark road,” Deputy Bailey said.
Regarding unfounded accusations that the Government is not allowing a vote on the NPF, Deputy Bailey said: “I’m reassured under the review mechanisms in this Bill in relation to the NPF, should it be changed or altered, a vote will be required in the Oireachtas.”
“This has been the position in the Planning and Development Bill 2016 since it was published in January 2016 by then Minister Alan Kelly,” she said.
The relevant section of the Bill, which has passed the Dáil and is being debated in the Seanad Committee Stage, has not changed in the intervening period despite detailed examination both in and outside Leinster House.
Deputy Bailey said claims by the cross-party Coalition Against National Planning Framework group that the Government is trying to avoid Oireachtas scrutiny are opportunist at best and intentionally detracting from a cohesive plan which creates the environment for sustainable growth throughout the country.
She pointed out that opposition members did not avail of speaking time when it was afforded to them on the issue previously.
“On October 3rd last, the Dáil and Seanad approved a motion referring the draft NPF to the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government for its consideration and to submit a report to the Minister. The Minister attended the committee on October 18th, following which the Committee submitted a report of observations.
“Dáil Statements took place on the draft NPF and JOC report recommendations on 26 October, with around 45 Deputies contributing to over nine hours of debate.
“The debate then collapsed due to lack of speakers. Some of Project Ireland 2040’s current loudest opponents did not contribute to this debate.
“All stakeholders nationwide have contributed to this. There have been two formal phases of public consultation, over 40 regional events and workshops, four engagements with various Oireachtas Joint Committees, feedback from an expert Advisory Group and detailed submissions from a range of stakeholders.
“During the most recent public consultation, which was the second stage, on the draft NPF over a thousand submissions were received, of which 150 were from Oireachtas members, elected members and local authorities,” Deputy Bailey said.
“Fine Gael’s sole interest is in progressing the NPF and NDP (Project Ireland 2040) for the benefit of all on this island and for the future opportunities it will provide,” Deputy Bailey added.