A national planning framework


Sir, – Frances Ruane’s article “Planning framework must be founded on courage” (Opinion & Analysis, February 14th) neatly summed up the issues around the lazy approach to planning in this country whereby every attempt to marry development with societal and environmental responsibility, since the 1968 Buchanan report, was effectively fudged or compromised. The cynic in me tells me that the soon to be released National Planning Framework will proceed along similar lines.

She correctly points out how, since that time, the capital “continued to grow disproportionately and spill over in to neighbouring countries”. Sadly, due to this “Dublin-centric” approach she mentions, it still does. If anything, more so.

However, what’s missing from her argument is the other pertinent point which years of planning tribunals highlighted – that the planning process in Ireland has long been compromised by the relationship which developed between builders and developers and elements of the political class in this country. This occurred in parallel to the various attempts at responsible planning which were undertaken since the 1960s and perhaps goes a long way to providing a conclusion as to why these, unfortunately, withered on the vine. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – As anyone who has travelled in Germany knows, it is the European country with the most evenly distributed prosperity, amenities and general wellbeing. The main reason for this is that the country is divided into 16 self-governing regions under the central government in Berlin. The latter takes the view that the country will be better governed if the centre can draw on the first-hand knowledge and expertise available in the regions.

Our National Development Plan 2040 cannot transform the Republic into a country which has fairly evenly distributed prosperity, amenities and general wellbeing because the ruling Dublin bureaucracy intends to continue ruling the entire country without any self-governing power devolved to regions.

They have years ago rejected and buried the teachings of the founding director of the Institute of Public Administration, Tom Barrington, in books such as The Irish Administrative System and From Big Government to Local Government. These books envisage regional and district self-government for the Republic, thereby making possible that equitable development which the present National Plan will once again fail to achieve. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 4.

Sir, – With the release of the Government’s National Development Plan this week we are sure to hear the term “parish-pump politics” bandied around by city-based journalists and commentators, usually as a thinly veiled attack on anyone who has the temerity not to live within the M50 who may hold dissenting views on the national plan.

A quick check on the Co Dublin civil parishes website lists over 75 parishes in Dublin, many of which, I’m sure, contain multiple pumps and indeed multiple politicians. Need we even mention Garda stations? – Yours, etc,



Co Limerick.