David McWilliams reckons that the Republic’s expansion has led to unsustainable urban communities, and a startling divide between ‘new’ and ‘old’ Ireland. In essence, the problem raised by the 2006 Census is that whilst Dublin is expanding rapidly, the countries other centres of populations, Cork, Limerick and Waterford are witnessing falls in their population, whilst in the countryside it is rising.
The population is falling or about to fall in three of our five major cities. This is a huge issue and is a direct result of bad transport. Traditional Irish cities are in danger of getting cut off from their hinterland. This could be a disaster if not checked. It is a new development and we must wake up to it.
In the past, our politicians focused on the peripheral nature of the remote countryside. This was the starting point for much of our lobbying. Now the opposite is happening – rural areas are flourishing and our cities, apart from Dublin and Galway, are dying. And even Dublin and Galway are not keeping pace with the growth of surrounding counties.
What it needs, he argues, is strong political leadership and focus, and a strong mayoral office for the dying cities.