Minister pushes for more balance in the regions

Minister Foley with Eastern and Midlands Regional Assembly director Clare Bannon (on the right) and an ERMA staff member

There has been a call in Kerry for a continued focus on balanced regional development after new figures showed that population growth in the greater Dublin region is outpacing other areas. 

Education Minister and Kerry TD, Minister Foley, said the 2022 Census results show that the population of all regions has grown, which is positive.  

It is important to remember, however, that a key aim of the National Planning Framework was to ensure that 50 per cent of the population growth occurred outside of Dublin. The 2022 Census results suggest that the continued population growth in the Dublin region could undermine this objective

Minister Foley was speaking on the topic of balanced regional development in a keynote address at the Regions in Focus conference in the Fitzgerald Woodlands House Hotel in Adare, Co Limerick.

Since the National Planning Framework was launched in 2018, population of the Southern Regional Assembly, which includes Kerry and eight other counties, has increased by 8.2 per cent, from 1.61 million to 1.745 million, an increase of 8.2 per cent.

Minister Foley at the conference, which was chaired by broadcaster Olivia O’Leary

But the population of the Eastern and Midlands Regional Assembly, which includes Dublin and surrouding counties, has increased from 2,384,100 in 2018 to 2,603,200 now, a rise of 9.19 per cent, according to the latest figures from the official Regional Development Monitor. 

Minister Foley told the conference that the current review of the National Planning Framework was an opportunity to strengthen balanced regional development.

“We have seen all regions growing at a rapid pace but we must keep a continued focus on balanced regional development as we plan for more new infrastructure, housing and services,” she said.  

Much has changed since the National Planning Framework was first launched in 2018. 

“Our population has now grown to over five million and with that come new demands for additional housing, health services and school places in expanding communities,” she said. 

The minister said the government has increased the capital budget for new infrastructure every year since it took office.  

“With a growing population, we need to get this right. If we can plan our housing, our renewable energy, our transport links and more in a sustainable manner, we will be able to provide a healthy, happy and harmonious lifestyle for generations to come,” she maintained.

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