If someone gets out a map of the island of Ireland and looks at the motorway and rail infrastructure, they will see there is a huge gap in the north west of our island. There is no motorway, rail or air link to Derry city, which is the fourth largest city on this island. There is no rail, motorway or air link connecting the fourth largest city on this island to the capital city.
That neglect has severely impacted the entire region. I speak as a Donegal man. This is why it is vital that the national planning framework does not yet again leave behind the north west of Ireland, which has a population of 500,000 people. It is critical that we get this right. We are talking about the next 20 years of investment. It will be linked to the Government's capital plan.
When the draft national planning framework was published, it caused huge alarm and shock in Donegal, Derry and Tyrone. I will tell the House why. Donegal County Council is led by its chief executive, Seamus Neely. Derry City and Strabane District Council is led by its chief executive, John Kelpie. They are both visionary men who have worked together and come forward with a north west city region plan to turn around the neglect and underdevelopment of the entire north west. It is a plan that can deliver prosperity to our people and connect our region to the rest of this island.
I ask the Government to listen to the appeal in the submission that came late last year from Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council and to make sure that when the final draft of the national planning framework is published, the north west city region of Donegal, Derry and Tyrone, which has 500,000 people, is connected and given the resources it needs.
We are talking about the ports of Derry, Greencastle and Killybegs. We are talking about funding Donegal and City of Derry airports. We are talking about delivering the N13, N14 and N15 roads projects. Most importantly, we are talking about linking Donegal, Derry and Tyrone to Dublin through a new motorway.
We are talking about the national broadband plan connecting homes across the region and a proper electricity infrastructure. I cannot stress enough how vital it is that this planning framework should not be Dublin-centric but should take the pressure off this city. We can see how house prices in this city are a nightmare for young people. We can see the nightmare of having to travel to work in this city. This city is being strangled, which is why we need a developed regional strategy. Donegal, Derry and Tyrone - the north west city region - needs to be at the heart of that strategy.