Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers (Resumed). - Regional Policy.

242.

asked the Minister for Local Government the salient features of the Government's regional policy.

I would refer the Deputy to the statement issued by the Government on 19th May, 1969. That statement indicated that it is an objective of the Government to check the tendency towards unbalanced regional development, that the Government are concerned to achieve broad-based regional expansion leading to a faster rate of industrial growth and a higher level of employment in industry and services and to keep population dislocation to the minimum consistent with these objectives, that the Government consider that the potential of every region should be exploited to the full, including the potential of those cities and towns which can develop as growth centres, and that the development and improvement of small towns and rural areas will be encouraged in order to improve employment in the smaller centres.

The Government recognised the need to make provision in Dublin for the natural increase in the existing population, for new enterprises for which an alternative location is not feasible, and for an expansion in existing enterprises; beyond these limits, the policy is that the further expansion of the city should not actively be promoted.

In the case of the Gaeltacht, Government policy is to encourage and expand suitable economic activities and to improve social conditions so that those residing there, who use the Irish language as their normal medium of communication, will have adequate opportunities of securing gainful employment and of enjoying reasonable living standards. The positive steps taken to implement these policies include:

(a) the establishment of the regional development organisations to co-ordinate the programmes for regional development in each region, their first task being the preparation of reports on the potential of each region, and the establishment of a regional unit of the Industrial Development Authority in each region,

(b) the wide range of special measures designed to favour development in the designated areas, including the county development teams backed by the special regional fund, differential aids and incentives for industry and infrastructure as well as measures in relation to agriculture,

(c) the small industries programme of the Industrial Development Authority,

(d) the programmes of Roinn na Gaeltachta and Gaeltarra Éireann, as well as the special attention given to the Gaeltacht by State Departments and public bodies generally,

(e) the encouragement of industry to site itself outside Dublin through the administration of industrial grant incentives.

An interdepartmental committee are at present considering future regional policy. They have before them the reports furnished by the regional development committee and are also aware of the work being done by the Industrial Development Authority on regional industrial planning. I expect to receive a report from the committee shortly. I would envisage bringing recommendations on future regional policy for consideration by the Government at that stage.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary satisfied with our regional policy in regard to the west and the other undeveloped areas? Is he not aware that the people are still flying from those areas to the eastern seaboard and will he therefore endeavour to get our regional policy up to date because it has been a failure so far?

That is a separate question.

It has been a failure.