Well someone in government has finally stated what everyone else in the country has long known – the decentralisation plan that sought to move central government services, including 10,000 civil servants, to 53 locations around the country constituted crude parish pump planning.  Tom Kitt was speaking after a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Sports and Tourism:

“In truth, it was a failed initiative, and we need to deal with it.  It was unveiled by Mr McCreevy without consultation with anybody, or a proper Cabinet discussion. It was based on questionable foundations that largely ignored the National Spatial Strategy, and allowed for a move to every constituency. It was parish pump and parochial.”

In short, decentralisation had no unlying rationale other than to try and buy votes in every constituency in the country by moving services and jobs there regardless of the costs and benefits to the country as a whole.  What is remarkable given Kitt’s comments is that McCreevy’s cabinet colleagues went along with it knowing that it had involved no consultation, was based on no evidence base or informed analysis, had questionable foundations, and ignored its own spatial planning policies which it had only just adopted (and which itself had been compromised to a certain degree by the parish pump).  Like McCreevy’s rural renewal tax schemes – also an unmitigated disaster – we’re now, not unsurprisingly, living with the legacy of parish pump planning.  The sooner we have a branch and root review of the role of planning in the present crisis the better.

Rob Kitchin

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