Disappointment that neither Portlaoise or Longford have been designated gateway towns under the national spatial strategy plan.
The government has published the National Spatial Strategy (NSS) 2002-2020 which aims to curtail the unsustainable growth of the greater Dublin area. In order to drive development in the regions, the NSS proposes that areas of sufficient scale and critical mass will be built up through a network of gateways and hubs.
Towns chosen under the NSS for increased development and investment predictably welcome the new plan. But those left out are reacting with anger. The government has been accused of ignoring Portlaoise and Longford. Neither town has been chosen as a gateway town for the midlands.
Portlaoise businessman and owner of Laois Education Supplies John McNamee expresses his disappointment with the NSS. He is confident that Portlaoise has the best infrastructure in the country so,
It would make sense to me to have Portlaoise designated as a gateway town.
A woman interviewed on the streets of Portlaoise believe her home town lost out because,
There's not enough political clout I’d say, we don’t have a minister in Portlaoise.
Healy Hynes.of Athlone Chamber of Commerce believes the proper implementation of the NSS is of the utmost importance. Offaly County Council Director of Services Jack Keyes believes the model works well in other countries. The council considers,
The unique quality of life in the three towns can now be maintained as they develop in parallel.
Officials from all three areas are now seeing a meeting with the Minister of the Environment Martin Cullen.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 28 November 2002. The reporter is reporter Ciarán Mullooly.