With the general election this week, Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, is calling on the next government to take the brave and necessary steps to deliver effective regional development.
Ibec Senior Regional Policy Executive, Helen Leahy said: “The country needs a more balanced economy. As more and more people and jobs migrate to the capital, this growth pattern is presenting major challenges, including increasing sprawl, housing market problems, congestion and adverse impacts on people’s lives and the environment. Dublin accounts for almost half of all economic output, making us more reliant on our capital city than any other country in the EU. Without ambitious investment in the regions, this imbalance is set to continue.
“The current approach to regional development, outlined in the National Planning Framework (NPF ), places a renewed focus on developing second tier cities and designated urban centres, as engines for sustainable economic growth, creating economic spill-overs to rural areas. Embracing an urban-focused approach, will play a key role in talent relocation and retention. Increasingly, businesses are seeking locations with strong ecosystems, where they will be able to access a pool of suitably qualified people.
“The most successful means of achieving the NPF’s goals is by investing in infrastructure including housing, education, transport, broadband and health, making urban centres vibrant and attractive places in which to live. We must address the fundamental impediments to quality of life by delivering public infrastructure, urgently delivering projects which have been committed to, and identifying new projects where needed. Ensuring that we match record private investment, with a renewed and expanded public infrastructure, will be key to the future success of the regions, and the defining challenge of the coming years.
“Finally, re-balancing growth and creating a counterbalance to Dublin requires prioritisation and hard choices, a consistent approach and a commitment to successful delivery of Ireland 2040. Unless we do so, the imbalance will continue to persist to the detriment of Dublin, the regions and the country as a whole. Since the lows of the financial crisis, there has been a spectacular recovery in the economy. We must harness the rewards of this economic success, to make meaningful improvements to the quality of everyday life of people in all parts of the country. The next government has the opportunity to meet that challenge.”