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We need a spatial plan for the island of Ireland – Tóibín

30 November, 2016

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Regional Development, An Teachta Peadar Tóibín TD, has outlined how the imbalance of regional development throughout Ireland needs to be tackled in order to counteract the problems arising from the dominance of Dublin in terms of population and attracting investment.

An Teachta Tóibín has suggested that the government invest resources in another city to act as a counterweight to the capital city, and to plan our spatial strategy on an island-wide basis.

The Meath West TD said:

“The Government have a scatter gun effect with regards development. The result is a lopsided economy with a damaging overconcentration around Dublin and regions that are empting.  Look at the uneven delivery of jobs by the IDA for example, over the last number of years. In 2012, 23% of inward investment was outside of the Dublin/Cork area for example. The figures have improved but investment is still 60% skewed towards Dublin and Cork

“Not only does this uneven investment gut rural Ireland, it also overheats Dublin. Traffic on Dublin’s M50 motorway is growing at a rate that is 10 times the European average. Commutes are slowing down and if there is an accident, they are ground to a halt for hours. All of this costs local business money and reduces international competitiveness

“In 25 years, there will be nearly 9 million people living on the island of Ireland, north and south. John Moran outlined how critical mass, population wise, needs to be built up in another city in the state in order for it to be able to be recognised internationally, as an international enterprise location in its own right. It must act as a counterweight to the continuous growth of Dublin.

“Dublin holds 40% of the state’s population and it is continuing to suck up people and resources. In the years to come, under current government policy, Dublin may hold 50% of the population of the state. This imbalance is far out of kilter with other countries. London is considered to be far too large in comparison to the regions of Britain, yet London only makes up 13% of the British population.

“The last spatial plan for populist political reasons tried to be all things to all people. The truth is fewer urban centres need to be selected in order to provide necessary critical mass.  Locations selected need to attain this critical mass in areas such as population, transport, property, utilities, communications and public services. Selection needs to leverage complementarities, reduce redundancy and duplication, increase competitiveness, and create multiplier effects.

“The Government needs to get creative and needs to be bold, and think beyond the borders. For 90 years, the north and the south have planned with their back to each other. This has cost money and created swathes of poverty. We need a single spatial plan for the island of Ireland.” 

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