The Rural Independent Group have announced the introduction of their Planning and Development Bill 2022. The Bill aims to hold the government accountable for all actions taken under the Ireland 2040 project, the group said.
Ensuring that rural areas are not forgotten when it comes to delivering key infrastructure projects and essential public services to their areas is a major concern, the group said.
Speaking at a press conference to launch the bill at Leinster House today (Tuesday February 15), the leader of the group, MP Mattie McGrath, said:
“The Ireland 2040 project will dictate where people live, work and have access to all public services over the next 20 years.”
This new bill would give Dáil Éireann the ability to contribute much more to rural and regional development in Ireland, according to the group.
Deputy McGrath and independent Laois-Offaly TD Carol Nolan said urgent state intervention is needed to bring jobs, wealth and long-term well-being to regional areas and rural Ireland.
“These communities have been disproportionately affected by successive governments since the financial crash,” said MP Nolan.
Deputy McGrath further said the opportunities for remote work due to the Covid-19 pandemic “must not be diminished”.
He added that the strict planning restrictions on rural housing must also be reviewed.
Project Ireland 2040
The Dáil has been “completely sidelined” on the Ireland 2040 project, including withholding people’s input into strategic policy and capital spending plans, according to MP McGrath.
The group believes it is essential that the Dáil and the public can contribute and review progress under the plan, which includes a €165 billion National Development Plan (NDP) and the National Planning Framework ( MFN).
“After all, the NDP’s $165 billion in funding is provided by taxpayers and it seems odd that the government is refusing legitimate donor contributions,” according to MP McGrath.
The leader of the group said they urged the government to stand with rural communities and provide an opportunity to rebalance development with increased investment in small towns, regional towns and cities.
“We believe that a democratic review of the new NDP element of the Ireland 2040 project is essential and, particularly after the pandemic, to ensure that Ireland’s future economic prospects are balanced,” added MP Nolan.