Leo ac­cused of ‘skul­dug­gery’ for ‘rush­ing through €115bn plan’

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By James Ward Po­lit­i­cal Correspondent

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.

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