Na­tional Plan­ning frame­work is just not fit for pur­pose

Mid Louth Independent - - OPINION -

Dear Sir, THE “Ire­land 2040 Na­tional Plan­ning Frame­work” (“NPF”) is not fit for pur­pose. It uses a patch­work of lo­cal au­thor­ity plans as a foun­da­tion stone for its na­tional plan. It ig­nores prob­lems in lo­cal gov­ern­ment bound­aries and is blinded by those same bound­aries.

Is Droichead Átha a Place?

On page 17 the NPF draft plan com­ments on the im­por­tance of “com­mu­nity, land and place” to the Ir­ish psy­che. It com­ments on the “her­itage and iden­tity as­so­ci­ated with place”. Blinded by county boundary lines the NPF goes on to ig­nore cer­tain “places”.

Nowhere is this more ap­par­ent than in Droichead Átha – a city gov­erned by two re­gional au­thor­i­ties based in Na­van and Dun­dalk. The au­thors of the NPF think north­ern Droichead Átha is a large re­gional town in Louth. Com­i­cally they con­sider that part of our city south of the river Bóinne as part of ru­ral Meath. It is part of Meath, but is also part of our city. Do they not know that Droichead Átha is one place? Every­body else does.

Droichead Átha is an 800 year old port city. From the Salmon of Knowl­edge to the Cromwellian siege, or the Bat­tle of the Boyne to Saint Oliver Plun­kett, Droichead Átha has never been far from Ire­land’s his­tory. To­day our bustling city serves a pop­u­la­tion of 80,000. It is the fifth largest city in Ire­land. It is served by the same in­ter­na­tional air­port as Dublin City. Yet it does not fea­ture in the NPF. The NPF can see Lim­er­ick, Gal­way and Water­ford – but not Droichead Átha!

Does the NPF tran­scend county boundary lines?

On page 10 the NPF says it will “in­tro­duce more strate­gic and co-or­di­nated plan­ning of our cities and large towns across lo­cal au­thor­ity bound­aries”. Yet it does not do this for Droichead Átha. Do the au­thors of the NPF re­ally think that it is a good idea that county coun­cil staff in both Na­van and Dun­dalk should ad­min­is­ter lo­cal ser­vices for Droichead Átha? Do the au­thors of the NPF re­ally think that lo­cal au­thor­ity staff in Na­van and Dun­dalk is best placed to ad­vo­cate for Droichead Átha?

The Na­tional Plan­ning Frame­work seeks to an­tic­i­pate and solve the prob­lems of the fu­ture while blithely ig­nor­ing the prob­lems of the present. A plan built on a patch­work of com­pet­ing lo­cal au­thor­ity plans is hope­lessly in­ad­e­quate not just for Droichead Átha, but for Ire­land.

John Kier­ans Fianna Fáil PRO Louth / Coastal Meath

Drogheda on the Boyne has played a key part in Ir­ish his­tory

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