Govt accused of undermining integrity of NPF process

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Alan Kelly said the integrity of the process was undermined

Opposition TDs have called on the Government to postpone the launch of the National Planning Framework: Ireland 2040 plan, saying it has to be put to a Dáil and Seanad vote first.

The NPF, which sets out what the country should look like over the next 20 years, is due to be published in Sligo on Friday.

Today, the cross-party Coalition Against National Planning Framework group accused the Government of attempting to rush through the plan in order to avoid Oireachtas scrutiny.

Labour TD Alan Kelly said the relevant legislation states that the draft plan had to be put to the Dáil and Seanad for approval and that the Government is not doing this “frankly, is sly”.

He also said the integrity of the process had been undermined.

Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív said it is absolutely vital that the plan is examined by the Oireachtas.

Asked if his party would withdraw support for the Government if this was not done, Mr Ó Cuív said the matter was not included in the “confidence and supply” deal.

Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin said the Government was undermining the rights of the Oireachtas and was concerned it was rushing it through without a vote.

Independent Michael Fitzmaurice said he wanted to make the plan better but accused the Government of skullduggery in its handling of it.

A meeting between the group and Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy is due to take place later today.

The draft of the plan has been criticised by some who say it is anti-rural and too focused on Dublin.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin accused the Taoiseach of attempting to rush through the NPF before legislation is enacted that would require Dáil approval for the plan.

There were rowdy scenes when the issue was raised during Leaders’ Questions.

Mr Howlin said if the Government had allowed the Seanad a few days to complete a bill on the NPF, the Government would require the approval of the Dáil for the draft plan.

In response, the Taoiseach said this was “just a classic case of opposition for opposition’s sake”.

He said political parties, for political reasons, were opposing a plan they have not even seen yet. 

Leo Varadkar said the NPF would automatically go on a statuary footing.

“Even if the legislation that they were referring to had been passed, it would still not be a requirement that the final document be passed by the Oireachtas,” he said.

He said the legislation only required the Government to “have regard” to any resolution that the Oireachtas might adopt.

“The sad thing about this is the extent to which politicians from opposition parties have wrapped themselves in process and procedure,” he said.

“What’s important about project 2040 is the ambitions that it creates for Ireland.

“This is a real vision for the country of the future, and much better place than we have now and the opposition are terrified of it.”

Additional Reporting Justin McCarthy

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