Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Roscommon-Galway Shane Curran says the Government is being disingenuous when it claims that the proposed boundary changes are the result of an independent recommendation. The Boundary Commission, which is independent, is being informed by Fine Gael and Labour’s long term planning framework.
Mr. Curran explained, “Enda Kenny and Alan Kelly have claimed that the proposal by the Boundary Commission to move areas of Roscommon into Westmeath is an independent one, not government policy. However, this assertion fails to stand up to scrutiny as the Boundary Commission is being informed by the government’s planning policies.
“The fact of the matter is the terms of reference that the Boundary Commission is working under are a result of a change in the national planning framework, which has been pioneered and driven by Ministers Phil Hogan and Alan Kelly.
“The Boundary Commission proposal to move Monksland from Roscommon to Westmeath is a direct consequence of the government’s new planning and regional policy, which was published in draft in June 2015 to replace the National Spatial Strategy. Although unpublished, it is now becoming clear that a decision has been taken to dismantle the Midlands Gateway, centred around Athlone, Tullamore and Mullingar.
“The proposal of the Boundary Commission to move Monksland into Westmeath is essentially collateral damage, a result of the decision to effectively scrap the National Spatial Strategy and to ‘redesign’ the Midlands Gateway around Athlone and Mullingar, removing Tullamore, and incorporating Monksland to make a more ‘viable’ Westmeath industrial hub.
“This flawed plan is in stark contrast to Fianna Fáil’s vision for the area. We will ensure that the 8,000 people living in Monkstown will remain in Co. Roscommon. It makes no sense to transfer the county’s main industrial base to another local authority. Fianna Fáil will retain the existing boundaries and ensure that they are protected into the future”.