'Joined-up thinking' required for services like broadband plan, says former Housing Agency chief

The former chair of the Housing Agency Conor Skehan has called for "joined-up thinking" in terms of projects such as the National Broadband Plan.

It was like “putting lipstick on a pig” to talk about putting broadband into villages that could not treat their water properly.

This is representative of the lack of a clear and consistent plan to facilitate the emerging future of Ireland, he told Newstalk Breakfast.

The planning lecturer said that there is a need to “look at the bigger picture” if Ireland is going to make progress.

He said that the National Development Plan and the National Broadband Plan contradicted each other with one encouraging more focus on villages and towns with the other offering “one for everyone in the audience.”

“One arm (of government) is making plans without thinking of the cost. We’re in effect laying out plans without costs. It’s all about choices.”

He said that if the Government wants to look at providing services such as broadband and also building roads and houses then it will have to look carefully at how to fund all that and if necessary to increase taxes.

“They need a path to decide all that.

As we become more urbanised people expect to see specific things for their taxes. There is a responsibility for where money comes from and where it goes to. That calls for a more technocratic form of government. That’s the type of future we have to head to.

Mr Skehan said it was not an urban versus rural issue. It was much more nuanced than that with many types of rural Ireland existing, it was not enough to have a broad brush approach, he added.

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