"The real test is in the delivery" - Mixed response to 'Ireland 2040' plan

The new €116bn strategy has drawn both praise and criticism since it was unveiled earlier today

"The real test is in the delivery" - Mixed response to 'Ireland 2040' plan

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The Government's 'Ireland 2040' plan has been launched to a mixed response - with the €116 billion framework drawing both praise and criticism.

The strategy includes the National Planning Framework (NPF) and the National Development Plan, and aims to spread economic and population growth outside of the capital.

It includes proposals to develop the north-west and grow the cities of Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford, as well as building new homes, roads, hospitals and schools across the country.

Unveiling the plan, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "It marks a significant milestone in our country's development - the point at which we put the lost decade behind us, and move forward into a new decade of expansion."

It includes a prominent focus on climate change, including plans to ban all new non-zero emissions cars by 2030.

Fianna Fáil's Dara Calleary accused the Government of "repackaging dozens of previously announced projects and passing it off as a new national development strategy".

Deputy Calleary suggested: "Major projects being unveiled as part of the NDP such as Metro Link and additional social housing provision were already included in the previous Capital Plan, but just haven’t been delivered on.

“Like so many previous action plans, this one looks good on paper, but the real test is in the delivery." 

Sinn Féin's housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin said his party will study the plan over the coming days.

He argued: “We need to separate out genuinely new announcements from the repackaging of existing or already announced commitments. 

“The Government will be judged on delivery, not poetic launches and elaborate web sites that could have been delivered a bit better themselves." 

However, he also acknowledged that there had been changes from earlier drafts of the plan, "especially in terms of regional development, the North West & the All-Ireland dimension."

'Real concerns'

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said he welcomed the publication of the plans, but highlighted "real concerns, especially regarding public transport and housing".

He observed: “We welcome the new National Regeneration and Development Agency, but for it to work Fine Gael are going to have to abandon their current housing strategy.

"Rather than relying on the market, we need specific proposals on which State lands are going to be used to deliver large scale public housing projects."

He added: "The climate-proofing of this plan is simply not good enough. The framework should have been supported by a land-use plan, where farmers are rewarded for the storage of carbon, for flood protection, biodiversity and forestry management, as well as for food production."

The Irish Farmers' Association, meanwhile, said it was encouraged to see many of its recommendations - around areas such as rural housing and renewable energy development - taken into consideration.

IFA President Joe Healy said: "The allocation of €1bn for a new Rural Regeneration and Development Fund indicates a very welcome commitment to supporting and strengthening rural Ireland." 

'Groundbreaking for Cork'

Cork Chamber hailed the plan as "groundbreaking for Ireland, and particularly for Cork".

The group's president Bill O'Connell said a plan for a €200m investment in Cork’s public transport was of particular significance.

The plans also include proposals for a 'Metro Link' for Dublin - the latest version of the long-awaited Metro North project to link Swords and Sandyford.

Fingal County Council suggested it finally gives the green light to the high-profile project.

Chief Executive Paul Reid observed: “A northbound metro system is the most crucial piece of infrastructure needed in Ireland because not only will it link the Airport with Dublin City Centre, it will also link Swords and North County Dublin with existing public transport infrastructure such as Luas and DART.

"The decision to extend it south of Dublin City Centre to Sandyford is also welcome as it makes the system even more attractive for users, and we now await the announcement of the specific details and timelines next month."