Regional Imbalance Unsustainable and Irresponsible

COVID-19 and Brexit have amplified the stark reality of regional imbalance in this country. Fair, logical and future-focused nationwide development does not currently exist as evidenced in the overpopulation of Dublin and our major cities.

This long-term pattern of snubbing rural areas is neither sensible nor sustainable. It is imperative that government provide the infrastructure necessary to enable people to live, work and thrive in every village, town and city in the country.

The fact is that the criteria used for cost benefit analysis on major projects mitigates against investment in the regions. I am asking that Government change this.

Investment decisions must be guided by clear strategic objectives giving weight to factors that can bring transformational change. We must achieve greater transparency in how decisions are taken. Central government departments must work efficiently and effectively together and in congruence with local communities to achieve faster and better outcomes.

We need to move away from decision making by audit companies who do not have skin in the game. Relying wholly on analysis from auditors using narrow monetary measures, often based on population, rather than the transformation change that is required, impedes potential growth.

There are often benefits to projects requiring capital investment that, cannot be, or are difficult to monetise. Too often these projects are dismissed at an early stage in the appraisal process or delayed for years, even decades.

We have huge opportunities for growth potential in the green economy along the western seaboard.  This is particularly important as we have the legal requirement to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. To meet these climate obligations, we need a vast array of, and rapid increase in, high-skilled green collar jobs in construction, public transport, retrofitting, research and development of new technologies.

We must maximise the potential of the Atlantic Economic Corridor with sustainable investment in the Western Rail Corridor, the STZ Zone at Knock Airport, roads such as the R312 the A5, the N26 and other vital infrastructure.

COVID has taught us that we cannot continue with business as usual. Therefore, continuing the pattern of overburdening cities and ignoring rural areas is irresponsible.