Clonmel, 18 th February, 2018- An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s spin machine, “The Strategic Communications Unit”, funded by taxpayers, choreographed the launch of the National Planning Framework: Project Ireland 2040 on Friday. A more realistic title would read, “National Planning Framework: Pie-in- the-Sky- 2040”. Despite the hype and the fan-fare, the Fine Gael plan has almost entirely snubbed County Tipperary. Like Fianna Fáil’s National Spatial Strategy before it, no Tipperary town is earmarked as a growth centre or prioritised for investment or job creation.
Instead, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Sligo, Athlone, Letterkenny, Drogheda and Dundalk are the urban areas favoured for future growth.
This means these towns and cities will have key strategic and economic advantages over all towns in County Tipperary.
Put another way, Tipperary towns will be systematically discriminated against.
In effect, Limerick, Cork and Waterford in particular will suck the lifeblood, the investment, the growth and the jobs from Tipperary.
Motorway status for the N24 Roadway has also been ignored for the umpteenth time. The N24 is a key economic and social driver for the South of the County but it is also sub-standard and is dangerous in many areas.
Tipperary town will continue to be choked by thousands of vehicles including heavy goods vehicles driving through its main street. There will be no by-pass either for Carrick-on- Suir.
The Fine Gael/Independent Alliance government, supported by Fianna Fáil, has made a deliberate political choice to discriminate against Tipperary.
The plan in reality re-announces 179 projects and €40 billion expenditure, with the rest fuzzy, un-costed and with little or no time-line.
Expenditure of €116 billion is used to give the impression of a significant increase in spending but when population growth and use of Gross National Income instead of Gross Domestic Product are taken into account, the investment proposed is modest at best, rising from 2.9% in 2018 to 4.1% in 2027, still below the European average.
The much-hyped Climate and Energy section of the plan will, by the Taoiseach’s own admission, miss the EU Climate and Energy agreed targets by a whopping 60%. He also raised the prospect of new taxes in this area.
And the plan’s promises on housing are frankly, incredible, given the governments appalling record to date. Fine Gael has presided over an unprecedented Housing and Homelessness crisis, with sky-high rents, continued repossessions and home ownership being out of the reach of ordinary families.
The Government are fooling no-one with this plan.
I will be raising these issues strongly on the floor of the Dáil during the week and demanding the inclusion of growths centres in Co. Tipperary and the upgrade of the N24 to motorway status.
Deputy Seamus Healy