Thursday, 1 April 2021
Project Ireland 2040: Motion [Private Members]
Michael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
I welcome the opportunity to speak on this motion. In small towns throughout the country, there is a lot of apathy about the Project Ireland 2040 plan. It is regrettable that the Government seems to be following on from its predecessor and leaving small villages across the country that do not have the likes of Irish Water operating there in a situation where the grants they previously got to put in a community sewerage scheme are gone. A central authority will now decide the number of houses that are going to be built in each county. In the west, the likes of Galway city and Sligo town will be given priority. As we move down the ladder, the big question is what will happen to housing allocations in rural areas. The Office of the Planning Regulator is in place and we all know that it is getting tougher for people in rural areas to build houses.
The 2040 plan must introduce balanced regional development. I ask the Minister to look at it again in that light. I have been on to the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications about this issue. There is much talk about encouraging people to move back to country areas. Unfortunately, the way things are going, we are not giving our small villages - which I would call settlement areas - the opportunity to put the services in place that would attract people to live there. The 2040 plan needs an overall review. We questioned many parts of it and we have been proved right over the past year with the direction in which things are going. There seems to be an idea that we will fill the cities and larger towns and, after that, we can forget about rural areas. That is not acceptable.