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Locals 'bitterly disappointed' as Drogheda fails to receive 'city status' in Project Ireland 2040

The plan recognises Drogheda in the context of the Dublin to Belfast economic corridor instead.

Drogheda, Co Louth
Drogheda, Co Louth
Image: Google Maps

THE GOVERNMENT HAS been criticised for not recognising Drogheda, Louth as Ireland’s next city in the newly launched Project Ireland 2040 plan.

The plan sets out a 23-year vision for the country and outlines which projects will be prioritised in capital spending plans.

As the Cabinet signed off on the plan yesterday, a number of projects were announced spanning areas such as health, transport, sport, culture and housing.

The plan received a mixed bag of reaction yesterday, and President of Drogheda Chamber Paddy Callaghan has said the plan “missed opportunities for Drogheda and the North East”.

In a statement, Callaghan said that Drogheda sought to be designated in the plan as Ireland’s next city and the regional capital of the North East. However, the plan has only recognised Sligo in the North West and Athlone in the Midlands as regional centres.

There is anger and disappointment in the Co Louth town that Drogheda did not secure similar designation to that of Sligo and Athlone, and that there is no reference in the plan to Drogheda being on course to become Ireland’s next city, according to Callaghan.

“Now, when this plan is implemented, every region will have either a city or regional capital – expect the North East,” Callaghan said.

Drogheda City Status campaign group also hit out at the government over its plans for the Louth town.

The group said that it had provided a detailed planning study, the Hughes report, outlining how Drogheda should be granted city status under the plan.

A spokesperson said: “We are bitterly disappointed that the expert report we submitted, which detailed how the population rise demanded on economic and planning grounds that Drogheda should be administered locally and not effectively the plaything of local administrations in Louth and Meath, has been disregarded.

Our worst fears have been met once again, when the tough decisions had to be made, an Irish government has decided to pass the parcel and place a major impediment to the future prosperity of the people of Drogheda.

Cross-border network

Project Ireland 2040 does, however, recognise Drogheda and Dundalk in the context of the Dublin to Belfast economic corridor “as important cross-border networks for regional development”.

The plan says:

It will be necessary to prepare coordinated strategies for Dundalk and Drogheda at both regional and town level to ensure that they have the capacity to grow sustainably and secure investment as key centres on the Drogheda-Dundalk-Newry cross border network.

Callaghan did respect this acknowledgement and said that he considers Drogheda to be a key centre along the Dublin to Belfast axis.

“Whilst Drogheda welcomes the fact it has been mentioned in the context of the Dublin to Belfast economic corridor, we have a bigger role to play in national economic growth,” he said.

At present, too many local people are stuck with long commutes to work or study in the Dublin area that “represent a heavy financial, social and environmental cost”, according to Callaghan.

Read: Ireland 2040: Grand designs but which of these projects can we expect to see first?

More: The €116 billion Project Ireland 2040: Where is the money coming from?

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