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'D. R. A. F. T - not the final draft' - Taoiseach spells out his position in row with cross-party TDs

A number of politicians are angry there will not be a Dáil vote on the Ireland 2040 plan.

TDS FROM MULTIPLE parties have united to call out the government for what they claim is a deliberate attempt to rush through the Ireland 2040 plan.

The National Planning Framework Coalition, made up of Labour’s Alan Kelly, Sinn Féin’s Eoin O’Broin, Fianna Fáil’s Eamon O’Cuiv, and independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice, said the integrity of the process has been compromised.

The politicians told reporters today that the government is seeking to avoid a vote on National Planning Framework (NPF) by circumventing their own legislation.

The NPF is the government’s long-term plan for Ireland over the next twenty years.

Between now and 2040, the government wants to pull together all its action plans to ensure that it has national and regional strategies in place as Ireland’s population grows and as challenges such as Brexit land on our doorstep.

Ministers are due to travel to Sligo to launch the plan this Friday.

Kelly, who was the minister who initiated the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill during the FG-Labour coalition, said it clearly states that a vote on the National Planning Framework should take place in both Houses of the Oireachtas in order to place the plan on a statutory footing.

The Bill is currently before the Seanad, and due to be completed in that House today. It is then due to be referred back to the Dáil next week.

The Bill states:

Asked why the government is pushing forward with Ireland 2040 plan on Friday, before enactment of the above legislation, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the wording of the Bill states a ‘draft’ of the framework should come before the Dáil for a vote.

“D. R. A. F. T – not the final draft,” Varadkar spelled out to the Dáil.

The Taoiseach said a draft of the Bill was approved by the Houses in November. However, a number of politicians, including Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said there have been substantial changes made to the plan in recent weeks, which have not been approved.

Varadkar said there is nothing set out in law that says the plan is subject to approval by the Houses of the Oireachtas

Labour Leader Brendan Howlin told the Taoiseach that he was sitting at Cabinet when this legislation was first discussed with his predecessor Enda Kenny. Howlin claimed that it was always the intention to hold a Dáil vote on the final plan.

‘Stroke politics’

“This is stroke politics,” Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty told the Taoiseach today. He said avoiding a vote on the final plan shows “complete contempt” for the Dáil and the public.

Fianna Fáil’s Eamon O’Cuiv has called for a special Oireachtas committee to be established to consider and make amendments to the final plan.

Having been in Leinster House for a great many years, he said plans that tend to be rushed through without consultation “tend to fall flat on their face”.

2/10/2017 Veritas Technologies Jobs Announcements "D. R. A. F. T - not the final draft" Source: Leah Farrell

O’Cuiv said the government would be wise to try and get as much political buy-in for the plan.

“We have to remember we are talking about 23-year plan. One thing is certain, there will be changes in government, there will be changes here in Leinster House and what we need to do is get the biggest consensus we can,” he said.

The Galway-West TD said it would be ”totally foolhardy” for the government to press on with the plan without the approval of the Dáil, stating that it will result in the plan not lasting the pace to 2040.

Kelly said the government is engaging in “skullduggery” by launching the plan to much fanfare on Friday without consulting with opposition parties.

“Huge pressure” is now on the government not to proceed as planned on Friday, said Sinn Féin’s Eoin O’Broin.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has agreed to meet with the coalition of TDs at 4pm to discuss their concerns.

Explainer: What is the National Planning Framework 2040?>

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