Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government

Land Development Agency: Chairman Designate

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
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I thank the Chairman and confirm I am in the building. I congratulate Mr. O'Rourke on his new role. I look forward to working with him. I thank Mr. Coleman for attending as well. During Mr. O'Rourke's opening statement, I was listening to his vast knowledge of the different industries he has been involved in throughout his career. He said at the start that he is from Dublin, that he grew up there, that his parents were from Dublin and he mentioned the Civil Service and all the different agencies he has worked with. I will give him my background. I am from County Limerick. My father was a farmer and my mother a farmer and a housewife. I am a building contractor and have been in building since the early 1980s. I have been self-employed for the last 30 years. I was elected a county councillor. I was a councillor for six years representing County Limerick. I am currently a Deputy for Limerick County.

Not one thing the LDA is announcing today has anything to do with the area I represent. I welcome the project at Colbert Station in Limerick. As I said, it is Limerick. However, earlier we talked about sustainability and affordability for everyone, including in Limerick. If we use the 15-minute rule the LDA is adopting it will bring in Adare, Croom and Patrickswell but it takes out Bruff, Newcastle West, Abbeyfeale, Hospital, Knocklong and Kilmallock. I could keep going. It takes out every part of the rest of the county. My job as a Deputy is to build the towns and villages in County Limerick and to make it sustainable so we can have businesses that are sustainable. When the businesses are sustainable we have housing that is sustainable. I have been saying since I was elected that the infrastructure in the counties is not there. Building of houses in the county is stopped by the lack of water and sewerage services. The LDA stands for city projects only. It does not stand for people outside the city unless they are within 15 minutes.

If we look at the geography of Limerick and where the city is based, it is closer to County Clare. We can go to the Mitchelstown border, then on to the County Kerry border and we are bordering County Cork. The 15-minute rule takes out at least two thirds, if not more, of County Limerick, which I represent. I want sustainability and I want investment in the city. However, I want investment in the county as well. Take Newcastle West. There are 3,500 to 4,000 people there and there is no sustainability for them because the LDA is using its 15-minute rule. Croom is excelling. It is within 15 minutes of Limerick. However, when I look at the likes of Bruff, Kilmallock and Hospital and all the way back to Ballylanders and I come all the way across the borders to Hospital, Kilfinane and then across into Dromcolliher, Newcastle West, Abbeyfeale and Glin, there is nothing. There is no investment because all investment and funding is being put into cities.

Not everyone is from the city. I have grown up in the county, I am an employer in the county, I live in the county and my family live and are all employed in the county. Where is the equality in the plan from the LDA to spend outside of city projects? Even in the larger towns, where is the vision for all included in equality, for all counties, not only cities. Will Mr. O'Rourke address some of that please?