Project Ireland 2040: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Richard O'Donoghue on Thursday, 1 April 2021:
That Dáil Éireann:
notes that:
— Project Ireland 2040, comprising the National Development Plan (NDP) and the National Planning Framework (NPF) are not underpinned by any democratic mandate or vote, by either House of the Oireachtas, as originally promised by the previous Government;
— in excess of 560 submissions were made to the recent review of the NDP;
— a recent Ernst and Young report has concluded that the delivery of the €116 billion NDP, less than one year in, is under threat and already facing ‘significant challenges due to the fact that many State bodies and Government Departments have a‘fragmented approach and varying capacity challenges’ when it comes to infrastructural delivery;
— the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) research indicates that infrastructural investments have a powerful multiplier effect, which stimulates demand and creates jobs, both directly and indirectly;
— there has been chronic under-investment in infrastructure across rural Ireland, which now jeopardises and undermines the prospects for a post-pandemic recovery in these areas;
— regional and rural development in Ireland has failed, based on numerous key economic and social indicators, coupled with the complete over-dominance of Dublin;
— the NPF has reduced the democratic oversight at local government level as councillors and local communities have been stripped of powers to democratically review and decide upon local and city/county development plans;
— since 1966, Ireland’s population has grown by over two million, with most of this growth within the Greater Dublin Area;
— in accordance with Central Statistics Office data, around 37 per cent of the population live in rural Ireland;
— the Government has failed to provide every citizen with access to broadband, a human right, and indeed declared a basic human right by the United Nations in 2016; and
— Ireland now has an extremely serious digital divide between rural and urban areas with many parts of rural Ireland having no access to broadband, due to a complete failure by successive Governments;
and calls on the Government to:
— show much-needed urgency and fast track the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan across rural Ireland, with a deadline of end 2022 instead of the unacceptable 2027 Government target;
— make access to high-speed broadband a human right now, as it is in all parts of Norway, a country similar to Ireland, as it can be used as a catalyst to bring about improved access to healthcare, education and improved inward investment and job creation to every part of the country;
— prioritise infrastructural development in the regions and rural areas by expediting and prioritising its delivery in order to improve quality of life and allow for balanced regional job creation;
— provide both Houses of the Oireachtas with an immediate opportunity to thoroughly debate Project Ireland 2040 and its associated NDP and NPF elements, following the current review of the NDP, especially in light of the drastically changed economic and social landscapes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic;
— provide both Houses of the Oireachtas with an opportunity to take a democratic vote on Project Ireland 2040, following the above debate, in order to underpin the democratic accountability and legitimacy of the strategies;
— recognise the tremendous opportunities for remote working and rural living highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic and urgently review the draconian planning restrictions on rural one-off housing, contained within the NPF, as it is prohibiting rural people from being able to build a home in their area, which will lead to heightened rural depopulation;
— establish an expert independent unit or agency, with expertise in procurement, project management, value for money delivery, and on time target delivery, to plan, oversee and deliver the much-needed large-scale infrastructural projects across the regions; and
— increase funding to at least €5 billion under the NDP Rural Regeneration and Development Fund which currently has a completely insufficient allocation of €1billion under the NDP.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“notes that:
— Project Ireland 2040 represents a new strategic approach to social and economic development, and it is the first time that spatial planning and investment have been explicitly linked in Ireland;
— Project Ireland 2040 aims to accommodate the growth of 1 million additional people in a balanced and sustainable way, with a focus on developing regional growth;
— the Government sets the broad legislative and policy framework within which planning authorities work, and the preparation of a statutory development plan is undertaken in accordance with the statutory provisions of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended);
— under this legislation, the decision to adopt the county development plan is a reserved function of the elected members of the planning authority;
— the national-level planning policy as set out in the National Planning Framework (NPF) is being implemented throughout the planning system, and a statutory Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) was prepared by each of the three Regional Assemblies in Ireland, all of which were approved and in place by January 2020;
— the overall funding of €116 billion for the lifetime of the National Development Plan (NDP) out to 2027 is allocated on an indicative basis to each of the ten National Strategic Outcomes set out in the NPF;
— the specific financial allocations are provided for in the normal annual Estimates process and voted on annually by the Dáil;
— the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform published the Supporting Excellence: Capital Project and Programme Review Delivery in March 2021, and the report identifies a range of strengths and weaknesses in the public capital delivery system;
— a Supporting Excellence Action Team will consider the recommendation of how best Government Departments and agencies can be supported to deliver the well-balanced, well-targeted and well-delivered investments;
— although the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) proportion grew in the past 50 years, the majority (circa 1 million people or 60 per cent) of the population growth in Ireland between 1971 and 2016 took place outside the GDA;
— around three-quarters, or 75 per cent of Ireland’s population are living outside Dublin and around half, or 50 per cent living outside ‘large’ towns of 10,000 people or more, and in addition, the actual number of people living in rural areas as a whole, has increased by more than 300,000 people in this period;
— the Central Statistics Office (CSO) statistics for one-off houses in 2016 identify this cohort as 26 per cent of all occupied dwellings and for 17 counties with one-off housing comprised over half of all dwellings built since 2011 and the data confirms that more than 16,000 one-off houses were granted planning permission since the NPF was adopted in early 2018;
— the Programme for Government: Our Shared Future has committed to the development of a Town Centre First (TCF) policy, with these commitments complemented and supported by the rural policy prepared by the Department of Rural and Community Development;
— the establishment of the Department of Rural and Community Development was an important step in strengthening regional balance, including addressing decline, with a special emphasis on the potential for the renewal and development of smaller towns and villages;
— strengthening rural economies and our communities is a core objective of Project Ireland 2040, with the provision of €1 billion to the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund ensuring that the funding is there to deliver on that objective in the coming years; and
— projects are benefitting every county in Ireland and are supporting a wide range of sectors, including town centre regeneration, enterprise development, remote working, tourism and recreation, community facilities, and libraries etc.;
recognises:
— a total of 572 submissions were received during the Review to Renew, the public consultation on the review of the NDP;
— there is compelling international evidence that efficient capital public investment is central to long-term economic wellbeing, and that investment in our economy must be smart, well-planned, well-targeted and well-managed so that it delivers balanced regional growth;
— that efficient public capital investment allows the economy to grow faster on a sustainable basis by raising productivity and supply capacity and this has an important role to play in alleviating capacity constraints that might otherwise restrict economic and social progress;
— that the peripherality of many rural areas, their distance from public service provision and the relative narrowness of their enterprise base, are some of the reasons why rural areas need particular policy support to enable them to contribute fully to our national development, and the NPF supports the development of rural areas, particularly in rural towns and villages; and
— the Government made a decision to proceed with the National Broadband Plan (NBP) in November 2019, and this decision reflected the importance attached to bringing high-speed connectivity to all areas of the State and ensure that no-one is left behind, and this is a move that will address regional imbalances and is supported with a major level of investment, in this case €2.7 billion; and
supports:
— the Programme for Government commitment to seek to accelerate the seven-year timeline for the NBP;
— full implementation of ‘Our Rural Future’ which provides a policy framework for the development of rural areas over the next five years, including targeted measures to enable more people to live and work in rural communities with good career prospects, regardless of where their employer is headquartered; and
— the completion of the review of the NDP which will provide the strategic context for Government investment and set out revised sectoral capital allocations for the upcoming ten-year period, including non-Exchequer investment, as well as providing a renewed focus on delivery of efficient and cost-effective public infrastructure.
-(Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform)

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to the motion regarding Project Ireland 2040. On Thursday, 1 April 2021, on the question that the amendment to the motion be agreed to, a division was claimed and in accordance with Standing Order 80(2), that division must be taken now.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 80; Níl, 57; Staon, 0.

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.
  • Wynne, Violet-Anne.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers; Níl, Deputies Mattie McGrath and Richard O'Donoghue.
Amendment declared carried.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.