Government accused of omitting Longford from national plan

Liam Cosgrove


Liam Cosgrove


Minister Simon Coveney TD

The National Planning Framework, dubbed Ireland 2040 had been the brainchild of former Housing Minister Simon Coveney

The Government has been accused of effectively omitting Longford and other midlands towns from a new plan aimed at spreading development towards regional centres.

The National Planning Framework, dubbed Ireland 2040 had been the brainchild of former Housing Minister Simon Coveney.
Elected members were given a thorough overview of the document at last week's county council meeting in a move which is designed to chart the State’s population growth over the next 25 years.
But many councillors openly lambasted the document with several citing there was too much focus on the future growth of cities like Galway, Cork, Limerick and Waterford.
“Looking at that map (contained in the plan) you have Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford, but where's the rest of the country,” snapped a visibly incensed Cllr Seamus Butler.
Addressing the finer points of the plan earlier this year, Mr Coveney warned that three-quarters of the projected population increase of more than one million would be focused on Dublin and the east coast unless action was taken to drive the growth of cities such as Limerick, Galway and Waterford.
But it was the lack of reference to what impact that growth may or may not have on midlands counties typified by Longford which drew much cynicism at last week's meeting.
“Unless we do something in the midlands, we (Longford) could be consigned to being a backwater for the next 20 years if some of these issues aren't reversed,” added the Fianna Fáil group leader.
Not stopping there, Cllr Butler launched a withering attack on the Fine Gael Deputy leader and his successor at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy.
“Who do these people think they are?” he raged.
“The last time I looked we lived in a Republic that treated all of its citizens equally, but this (Ireland 2040) is in no way a republic document.”
He was followed by Cllr Paul Ross and Cllr Pat O'Toole, both of whom offered up similarly negative analyses.
Cllr O'Toole said he was “very disappointed” by the report's contents while Cllr Ross lamented the lack of reference towards upgrading the region's train network.
“If we (Longford) were commutable to Dublin within 40 to 60 minutes it would be a massive bonus to the county,” he said.
Those sentiments were matched by almost identically disconcerting remarks from Council chief executive Paddy Mahon.
He said the local authority had investedmuch time and energy in submitting its own take on the National Planning Framework, efforts he said which evidently “hadn't been taken seriously.”
He said: “Our response needs to reflect that level of disappointment and frustration.”

You may also like to read: