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DublinTown Response to Government’s New Rural Plan

  • Mon 29 March, 2021

Government’s New Rural Plan: A Set of Ill-Considered Ideas Banded Together and Called a Plan

DublinTown believes that the proposals outlined today are unworkable as they do not take into account how people wish to live and work, now and into the future. They fail to recognise why people have migrated to cities and why the pace of this migration had accelerated in recent years.

Cities offer the best opportunity for economic and environmental sustainability. Before the pandemic city use had demonstrated how attractive urban centres are for modern life.

We are living in abnormal times, very few people are satisfied with their current life patterns, fewer wish to see their current lives continue indefinitely. They are making the most of a bad situation. Basing long term plans on current circumstances will soon be seen as folly.

Internationally larger urban centres have borne the brunt of virus containment measures. Dublin has suffered disproportionately in Ireland. It is therefore, very disappointing to see a clear anti-Dublin bias extolled by Government at this time. It must be seen that while cities have suffered, they are best placed to rebound and regenerate economic activity and employment. It will soon be seen as short sighted to forgo these opportunities. Dublin has been Ireland’s engine of growth and opportunity; it can be again.

There are reasons to be skeptical about the proposals in the current domain:

  • Similar proposals have proven costly and ineffective in the past
  • While lone working has its attractions, it is known that office based workers are most likely to be promoted. The more ambitious personnel are therefore most likely to stay close to the decision making process.
  • Office managers note challenges in recruiting and training new staff virtually. This is a particular issue for younger graduates. It is not surprising that younger workers wish to return to the office environment.
  • People increasingly seek out leisure, entertainment, arts and cultural opportunities. Cities are best placed to provide these opportunities.
    • Ireland’s ability to attract FDI will be challenged as a European consolidated tax base is advanced. Sustained investment will therefore increasingly rely on quality of life issues, sought by large organisations and their workers, and provided within larger urban settings.
    • It is noted that grants will be provided to re-purpose disused cinemas and theatres as office spaces. This proposal highlights sustainability concerns and quality of life issues.
    • There are no details as to how social infrastructure such as schooling, hospitals, ambulance services and college facilities will be developed
  • We must consider environmental sustainability. One off housing and subsidising hackney services is the antithesis of environmental sustainability.
    • Is it proposed to pay motor mileage allowances to rural based civil servants attending meetings in Dublin? If so, the tax payer will be asked to subsidise environmental damage and unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions.

DublinTown CEO Richard Guiney said “We have developed several proposals aimed at re-balancing Ireland’s population. It now appears that the Government’s previous plan ‘Ireland 2040’ has been shredded. This is particularly bad news for regional cities and strategically placed towns. There is no structure to the current proposals or targeted investment to achieve economic and environmental sustainability. The proposals are a hotch-potch of ill-considered, non-integrated ideas banded together to produce a plan guaranteed to fail.”