The Taoiseach says politicians need to be realistic about the National Planning Framework.
The Cabinet is due to hold a special meeting today to discuss the new National Planning Framework – with the ‘Ireland 2040’ plan expected to be published in the coming weeks.
The strategy aims to help shape local, national and regional planning and investment for the next 20 years.
However, a coalition of cross-party TD’s have come together to voice their opposition to a draft version of the framework.
They claim it will ‘kill rural Ireland’ and warn the country is at risk of being walked into an irreversible crisis unless drastic changes are made to the plan.
This afternoon, the Taoiseach said the final plan will be significantly different to the draft version.
He said it is an important policy for the future of the country:
“The whole point of this plan is to make sure that we re-balance development towards other cities like Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford and also that we support rural Ireland and reverse population decline in rural Ireland and enable more people to choose to live in rural Ireland and stay in rural Ireland,” he said.
“So that is what the plan is all about.”
He said politicians need to be realistic and understand what is best for the country when choosing where to develop:
“A plan that isn’t realistic isn’t any use to anyone so when I do hear people talking about turning every town into a city and every village into a town and railways to everywhere that wouldn’t be viable or would require massive subvention at the expense of our health budget and out education budget – we don’t need that kind of plan.
“We have had the before. It needs to be realistic.”
Ireland’s population is expected to grow by one million people over the next 25 years, with the need for 600,000 more jobs and half a million homes.
The number of people aged over 65 is also expected to double.
The plan aims to set in place a strategy for coping with the changes – while also dealing with economic, cultural and environmental changes.
The Government has received 1,050 suggested changes to the original draft plan from members of the public and it is believed the plan has undergone a major re-write to keep rural TD's happy.
Members of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, the Labour Party and some Independents, have united to protest the strategy, warning that a draft version would result in a deep economic and social imbalance.
The Housing Minister is due to present a revised version of the document to Cabinet later today.