Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called for a significant re-evaluation of the status currently assigned to the town and environs of Clonmel under the National Spatial Strategy (NSS). Deputy McGrath was speaking after consultations with senior members of Ti who have engineered a significant review of the 2002-2020 NSS as part of their efforts to upgrade the importance of the town on a national level:
“It is clear at this point that Clonmel is suffering from what is essentially a failure to recognise the true regional and national importance of the town.
Under the existing NSS Clonmel is still designated as a ‘County Town’ when the reality is that we outperforms many of the designated ‘higher order’ centres in terms of key socio-economic strengths and the potential to build on existing opportunities.
As such the existing designation is hampering our ability to become far more actively embedded in policy decisions that can create enhanced, globally competitive and dynamic economic conditions; goals which are after all the explicit aims of the National Spatial Strategy.
What we also need to see are practical policy measures designed to encourage more balanced regional development. At the moment Clonmel is suffering both from the removal of several key services and from what I have stated time and again as being the less than subtle political agenda to prioritise other areas of the South East for political gain.
By any standard Clonmel is a significant regional player and that is why we need an urgent reassessment which not only better reflects that reality but which also takes seriously its central position at the heart of the recently defined Southern Region.
We have enormous strengths here in Clonmel such as a strong research and innovation capacity, and the availability of essential strategic infrastructure. In policy terms therefore, by failing to object to the continued designation of Clonmel as a ‘County Town’ we risk jeopardising these strengths by selling our potential short. That is something which I think everyone can agree is in no one’s immediate or long term interests. In light of that fact the Planning Department under Mr Brian Beck are to be lauded for the very pro-active measure of conducting this vital review on Clonmel’s behalf,” concluded Deputy McGrath.