Are we being left behind?
Cllr Chris MacManus expressed his concern that the government may be leaving Sligo and the Northwest behind after publication of the draft National Planning Framework.
Speaking during the November meeting of Sligo County Council, the Sinn Féin representative said that it was “downright illogical” that Sligo was excluded from the draft plan, particularly given that the National Spatial Strategy recognised Sligo’s potential to promote development in the north west and that the draft National Planning Framework identified Dundalk as a hub in the northeast.
Cllr MacManus said: “The minister is seeking balanced regional development, yet excludes Sligo which is best placed to serve as the main urban centre in the North West in terms of population, location, services and potential transport links.
“That the nearest urban areas that are larger than Sligo - Galway, Mullingar and Derry are all 80-90 miles away - leave a massive blank gap on the NPF map.
“Sligo and the surrounding counties have a catchment population of 400000 approximately: 8pc of the state’s total.
“As important, the catchment area equates to nearly a quarter of the state - a massive area to be ignored.”
“Brexit is coming down the track and Sligo needs to be ready. We need investment in our business parks and business development, investment in infrastructure including the N4, N15, N16 and N17 as well as an upgrading of our rail service.
“If Sligo is included in the National Planning Framework, we would be well-positioned to develop the town, the county and the region so that we are well-placed to deal with Brexit and other challenges down the road.
“Sligo’s Borough Council needs to be reinstated, with a long-term view to attain true city status.
“Sligo town and county cannot be left behind again,” Cllr MacManus concluded.