Leo accused of ‘skulduggery’ for ‘rushing through €115bn plan’
LEO Varadkar has been accused of ‘skulduggery’ amid claims he is rushing through the €115billion National Planning Framework to avoid risking a Dáil vote.
The NPF sets out a vision for Ireland for the next 25 years up until 2040, preparing for a projected population increase of over a million, and is set to be launched tomorrow. But Opposition parties suspect that after an extensive three-year planning and consultation process, the plan has been altered considerably to appease rural Fine Gael TDs, giving way to parish pump politics that could undermine its aims.
The allegations came after the Taoiseach told the Dáil the NPF will automatically be placed on a statutory footing just days before a Bill – which requires Oireachtas members to vote on whether or not they support the plan – is due to pass.
Labour’s Alan Kelly accused the Government of ‘engaging in skulduggery’.
He said: ‘This plan has taken three years to write. It’s had much consultation, submissions, views, etc. How can in the space of three to four weeks the whole plan be substantially changed?’
The relevant legislation states that a ‘draft’ of the NPF should be submitted ‘for the approval of each House of the Oireachtas before it is published’.
During Leaders’ Questions, the Taoiseach claimed this referred to a draft that passed through the Dáil unopposed in November, rather the ‘final draft.’
However, Opposition politicians including Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said there have been substantial changes made to the plan in recent weeks that have not been approved.
The Taoiseach hit back, saying: ‘The sad thing about this for people in all parts of Ireland is the extent to which politicians in Opposition have wrapped themselves in process and procedure.’
This provoked uproar from Opposition TDs who said the ‘process and procedure’ is democracy.