Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Calleary is warning the Government that plans to focus economic development on cities instead of concentrating on balanced regional planning will have disastrous consequences for rural Ireland.

He was responding to reports that the new National Planning Framework has earmarked a number of regional cities for economic investment and development, but fails to put a strategy in place for rural areas.

“Fine Gael are the creators of the two-tier economy that is being perpetrated across this country and it now appears that they are continuing to exacerbate an already extremely serious economic situation.  The previous Government concentrated its recovery efforts in Dublin and the greater Dublin area, and while this new plan proposes to bring in other cities, it is still an urban-focused strategy – completely ignoring rural towns and communities”, explained Deputy Calleary.

“While it should come as no surprise that Fine Gael is once again turning its back on rural Ireland, it is deeply disappointing, especially when counties like Mayo have so much potential.  Mayo is home to Ireland West Airport, Knock – an international air access gateway – which should be pivotal in any National Planning Framework, but has been cast aside by this urban-focussed Government.  We have an Institute of Technology, which produces highly skilled workers, many of whom want to remain in the county but are being denied the opportunity to do so by a Government which is determined to remain tied to city projects.

“This latest plan follows in the footsteps of numerous other short-sighted strategies, which fail to make any provision for economic growth in rural towns and communities.  We need a shift in focus – and instead of forcing people to move to larger cities for work and decent services, we should be looking at ways to spread the improving economic environment.

“We’re in danger of decimating rural Ireland completely, which will be disastrous for the overall economy, if we continue down the road that Fine Gael is travelling”.