Government urged to properly invest in rural Ireland

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said the planning system plays a role in contributing to the housing crisis, as he pressed Government to properly invest in rural Ireland and publish the long-awaited rural guidelines.

He called for a significant increase in the development of rural towns, and not just bigger towns, but smaller villages too.

Addressing the Dáil, Deputy Pringle said: “Recent Eurostat figures say it all: Ireland is the most expensive country in the EU, along with Denmark, and the cost of housing here is 88% higher than the EU average.


“This is an absolute disgrace and yet the government’s response has not only been wholly inadequate but has actually exacerbated the problem. Schemes like the Help to Buy, a scheme that is only accessible to those who already have a significant wage, only drives up costs even further and prices many out of ever buying or building their own home.

“Our current planning system plays a role in contributing to the housing crisis and I agree with this motion’s statement that the planning system in Ireland is ‘dysfunctional, outdated, and not fit for purpose’. But it is not only the fault of An Bord Pleanála that that is the case. This is particularly the case in rural Ireland, where planning is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve.

“I believe that we need to significantly increase development of our rural towns, and not just our bigger towns, but our smaller villages too. If we are serious about repopulating our rural areas then this type of development needs to be prioritised. It is not enough to develop areas such as Donegal town and Glenties, although development here is critically needed too, but we need to be looking at further developing villages such as Teelin, Carrick and Glencolmcille.

“We need proper policy that prioritises the development of rural areas and I support the calls for this in this motion. We need to strike a balance when it comes to planning. We also need to look beyond the taxation system to stimulate that growth as well in the rural towns and villages. We need the councils and local authorities to take a more active role to make that development take place and make that development happen,” he said.

The deputy was speaking on the Rural Independent Group motion re Planning and Rural Housing.

Deputy Pringle said: “I also support this motion’s call to allow sustainable log cabins to be constructed. Log cabins are energy efficient, durable and are a suitable housing alternative for parts of rural Ireland.

“These are the types of alternative solutions that the government needs to consider instead of relying on private developers. Private developers will not fix the housing crisis. They played a large part in creating it.


“The over reliance on the private sector has brought us here in the first place and it certainly won’t bring us back out. By the looks of it, neither will this government.

“The amendments put forward by the government are laughable. It’s the same old spin and bluster. One amendment outlines ‘funding streams for rural development’ and mentions the Local Improvement Scheme. My office has been dealing with dozens of stagnant Local Improvement Scheme applications, some that haven’t progressed in ten years.

“It is clear that current funding streams are not sufficient and are not helping rural communities in any effective way. It is time for the government to publish the long-awaited rural guidelines and to properly invest in rural Ireland and government investment rather than taxation and tax breaks,” he said.

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