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Limerick needs to be a focus for growth - Quinlivan

28 December, 2016 - by Maurice Quinlivan TD

The imbalance of regional development throughout Ireland needs to be tackled in the new

“national planning framework” Plan in order to counteract the problems arising from the dominance of Dublin in terms of population and attracting investment.

Deputy Quinlivan has suggested that the government invest resources in Limerick City to act as a counterweight to the capital city, and to plan our spatial strategy on an island-wide basis.

The Limerick TD said:

“Successive Governments have never had a proper balanced or strategic plan regarding development. This has resulted is a lopsided economy with a damaging overconcentration around Dublin and regions that are emptying.  

Uneven investment is destroying the core of rural Ireland but it also overheats Dublin and is unsustainable. 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 often for hours. All of this costs local business money and reduces international competitiveness. Yet cities and towns outside the Dublin area are in dire need of investment.

“In 25 years, there will be nearly 9 million people living on the island of Ireland, north and south. Never since the famine will Ireland have so many people living on the island and we need to plan for that. Dublin at present 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.  Previous spatial plans failed to deliver and this has seen a massive growth in Dublin sometime to the determent of other areas in the state. This is again clearly not sustainable.

“The last spatial plan was an utter failure because for populist political reasons it tried to be all things to everyone.  Clearly what is needed this time is fewer urban centres 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 reduce duplication, increase competitiveness, and create multiplier effects. Limerick City is ideally placed for this and will be the engine that boosts the entire MidWest region with all the local towns and villages benefiting from the City’s growth.

For Instance, here in Limerick if we are serious about developing Limerick as a counter economic driver to Dublin we need to have the proper investment in infrastructure that is vitally needed.  Some of the local projects necessary would be releasing funds to build the Coonagh- Knockalisheen road, start the process of building the M20 Cork to Limerick Motorway, accelerating the building of the road from Foynes port to Limerick, and complete the motorway from Limerick to Galway as part of that strategy. The government need to build social housing and develop plans for schools to ensure we have adequate infrastructure if we are to grow the city.

If the government is serious in developing cities to counter balance to Dublin they we need a huge strategic investing in other Cities. Limerick is obviously best placed to benefit from such a strategy. The City can expand on all sides unlike Cork and Galway which are both constrained by the sea. The City has some of the infrastructure already such as Shannon Airport, the Limerick tunnel, great sporting facilities, a historic Georgian centre with a Medieval historic core, it also has a cluster of top class 3rd level institutions therefore with imagination and Government support it can be achieved.

The Government has an opportunity to now do the right thing and make the investment in Limerick and ensure that the new “national planning framework” delivers for the whole of Ireland and particularly the regions.

“The Government needs to get creative and needs to be bold. We need a single spatial plan for the island of Ireland.” 

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