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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 19 June, 2018
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'Mixed messages' 'Thumbs up' 'A cock-up': Here's some of the reactions to the government's grand plan for Ireland

A ‘marketing exercise’ or a ‘vision for Ireland’: Political parties and stakeholders give their view.

pjimage (39) A selection of some of the press release headlines from political parties and stakeholders today.

THERE WAS MUCH fanfare in Sligo today as the government unveiled its Ireland 2040 plans.

The Cabinet today signed off on Project Ireland 2040, the new national planning and capital expenditure plans.

Over €116 billion is needed in the kitty to roll out the plan, which sets out a 23-year vision for the country and which projects will be prioritised in capital spending plans.

There were lots of projects announced today spanning areas such as health, transport, sport, culture and housing, with even more announcements to be made in the coming days.

So, what did everyone make of it?  

While the government is giving itself a slap on the back for a job well done, the reaction press releases were flooding into email inboxes.

Political parties

Unsurprisingly, the opposition parties were picking holes in the plan even before it’s launch, and today they didn’t hold back either.

No less than eight press releases on the plan were issued by Fianna Fáil today.

The party believes the government is over-promising and under-delivering on housing, and has essentially “redrafted” and “repackaged” projects the government has already announced.

Fianna Fáil’s Housing spokesperson Barry Cowen said the plan envisages one million more people living in this county and over 500,000 new homes.

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“However it is difficult to take Fine Gael’s commitments on housing seriously considering their abysmal record of delivery to date. They have presided over an unprecedented housing crisis which has resulted in spiralling rents, a massive increase in homelessness and home ownership being put out of reach of ordinary people,” he said.

“Like so many previous action plans, this one looks good on paper, but the real test is in the delivery. This government’s record is not great on follow through,” said Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform, Dara Calleary.

Other party members hit out at the plan, with Timmy Dooley stating he is “skeptical” of the government’s climate action promises, and Jack Chambers calling out the Taoiseach for “snubbing” the weak transport infrastructure in Dublin West.

Other political parties had similar sentiments today.

In three press releases on the plan today, Sinn Féin said the plan is more “rhetoric” than “real commitments”.

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said the Ireland 2040 plan doesn’t capture “the immediate needs of the country”. The party health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly points out that the major health projects in the plan have already been announced, adding that they have simply been “repackaged”.

Just one press release on the plan from the Labour Party that states:

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Labour spokesperson on Housing and Local Government, Jan O’Sullivan questioned how the plan can be on a statutory basis if it is agreed and published before the law to put it on a statutory basis is passed. This was a cause of concern among a number of TDs during the week.

The Social Democrats said the plan needs “decoding rather than reading” while Renua said: “Let’s hope it’s not just a Titanic of tokenism and missed opportunities.”

The Green Party claim the plan is not detailed enough, and won’t deliver on its key aims.

Solidarity-People Before Profit had an interesting musing on the plan:

What about other groups?

There was a mixed bag of responses today.

Business groups like Ibec were some of the first to react, giving their seal of approval:

IT Sligo, where the document was launched today said it welcomed a firm commitment by the government to support a Technological University in the north west of Ireland.

However, the Private Hospitals Association said the plan is a “missed opportunity for delivery of acute health facilities” stating that it “offers little solace to the hundreds of thousands of people currently languishing on public waiting lists,

It’s a thumbs up from the Irish Exporters Association, who said it welcomes the investment.

The Irish Exporters Association said it lobbied government on the development of the National Planning Framework particularly in the areas of: Brexit, regional road connectivity, international connectivity in ports and airports, multimodal transport and broadband.

There was also a warm reaction to the plan from the CEO of the Peter McVerry Trust, Pat Doyle.

It’s great to see such a big and ambitious capital plan proposed and to have a clear goal of 550,000 new homes by 2040. The plan is also a clear signal that we are now in a position to deliver much-needed large-scale social and infrastructure projects.
People will know that the single biggest legacy of the crash was the lack of funds available to invest social housing and other important areas. This plan provides a long-term vision to invest in housing and other critical areas such as education which ultimately will have a positive impact on efforts to tackle homelessness.
It’s important that within the 550,000 homes to be provided that the appropriate amount of social and affordable homes be provided.

Farmers are also quite pleased with the Ireland 2040 plan, with IFA President Joe Healy stating that it is good to see focus on the development and regeneration of rural Ireland.

He said the allocation of €1 billion for a new Rural Regeneration and Development Fund is to be welcomed.

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But what about the workers who will help to build this important infrastructure?

Engineers Ireland said that in order of the plan to be delivered there is a need for “consensus and institutional reform”.

While it welcomed the project announcements, the group said the government must establish a single infrastructure authority to oversee the implementation of the National Planning Framework and National Development Plan projects across government departments and State agencies.

RTPI Ireland – who represent some of Ireland’s planners – said it was an important day for their industry.

The group said the projects must be complemented by regional economic and spatial strategies as well as county and city development plans so as to ensure joined up approach to delivering what is needed at a local level.

However, the Irish Planning Institute states that Project 2040 choices “sends mixed messages” about evidence-based planning.

The lofty targets set down by government has Joe Corr, President of the Irish Planning Institute, asking questions about Ireland learning from its past.

“Good planning is evidence based. The framework proposed today sets out four cities and five towns outside Dublin as growth centres. That is one more than the eight gateway cities in the Spatial Strategy of 2002. The evidence of the past 15 years is that this didn’t
work,” said Corr.

Whether Ireland 2040 is just a “marketing exercise” as some critics have dubbed it today, or whether today marks the beginning of massive investment and reform in Ireland’s infrastructure remains to be seen.

The proof will be in the pudding, and this pudding won’t be finished for another twenty years.

Project Ireland 2040: The key points you need to know>

Read: You won’t be able to buy a petrol or diesel car in Ireland after 2030>

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