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Cabinet to see revised national development plan

The Cabinet will hold a special meeting today to discuss “radical” alterations to its national development plan amid mounting criticism of it.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy will present an altered document after 1,050 suggested changes to his original draft plan were received for discussion.

Rural TDs have voiced their objections, saying the plan is Dublin-biased and neglects rural Ireland.

The Irish Examiner understands that, following discussions with Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring, Mr Murphy’s latest version is equally balanced between urban and rural.

“We fully expect to address many of the points aided over in he Last number of months,” a source close to the Housing Minister told the Irish Examiner. “Minister Murphy has work closely with his own parliamentary party over the last number of weeks and indeed with Minister Ring over the last number of months to ensure that both regional and urban Ireland are both equally balanced in this plan. About 75% of growth will be outside Dublin.”

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy

The Government said the purpose of the original plan was consultation.

The National Planning Framework is at risk of being rejected by the Dáil.

Opposition TDs insist it will kill rural Ireland.

Members of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, and Labour, along with some Independents, last week united in protest at the framework.

The ‘Ireland 2040’ plan sets out priorities for infrastructure investments in the years ahead.

In recent weeks, Fine Gael TDs complained to Mr Murphy the draft version is too focused on urban areas.

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice said regional development has become a “buzzword” but there was “no real interest of everywhere working together”.

Labour’s Alan Kelly saying the report is “generic” and “hugely flawed”.

“We can’t ‘chock’ up Dublin. Dublin has to be a liveable city. The North West of Ireland might as well be somewhere in outer space.”

Fianna Fáil’s Éamon Ó Cuív questioned whether it was a plan for an economy or a country.

“Quality of life for our citizens is the ultimate measure,” he said. “It pushes resources into urban areas and expects people to follow the resources.”

If Fianna Fáil does not support the final report when it comes before the Dáil, it could threaten the stability of the confidence and supply arrangement with Fine Gael.

A spokesperson for Mr Murphy said it was “curious” that TDs would set out to oppose something they haven’t yet seen.

- Irish Examiner