€27bn spree on hospitals, roads and schools
Capital spending plan ‘to benefit every part of the country’ with 45,000 jobs. The most significant bottleneck on the road system linking Ireland’s three largest cities will be finally removed as part of the Government’s €27bn capital spending spree.
A new maternity hospital, a family law courts complex and up to €600m for social housing projects are among the main elements of the Coalition’s last long term spending plan before the General Election.
The Government’s ‘Building for Recovery’ plan promises to create 45,000 jobs as investment is directed towards health services, schools, broadband and energy efficiency.
One of the larger components is a €110m upgrade of the N7 Naas dual carriageway.
This would allow traffic to freely flow from Cork, Waterford and Carlow to Belfast via Dublin.
In addition, the Rotunda Hospital will move to Blanchardstown, in what will be seen as a major coup for Health Minister Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Joan Burton. Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has secured over €200m for a new garda IT system, as well as funding for station refurbishments, new garda vehicles and a forensic science laboratory.
A €1bn flood defence plan is also proposed for some 300 at-risk areas across the country. This will run over 10 years.
It is understood that a rail link from Dublin city centre to the airport is also in the plan, but may be developed over a longer period. Writing in today’s Irish Independent, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin emphasises that the plan aims to ensure “every part of the country benefits” and not just Dublin.
“It will pump €27bn into roads, rail, health facilities, schools, broadband and more to make our communities better and our economy stronger,” he says.
The main components of the Capital Spending Plan are due to be rolled out over a six-year period, however, there are longer time frames for certain areas such as transport.
The plan will be formally unveiled today by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Joan Burton, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe and Mr Howlin.
Senior Coalition sources say there have been significant efforts to ensure the plan is viewed as benefiting rural Ireland to the same degree as urban areas.
The majority of the spending is reserved for the areas of transport, justice, health and education.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe will unveil plans for a major new link between the city and Dublin Airport.
Having last week faced criticism for shelving the DART underground, it is understood Mr Donohoe will instead announce a scaled-down version of Metro North.
He will also join the Taoiseach to announce a major Naas dual carriageway upgrade, which is said to cost €110m.
In health, up to €400m will be used to replace or upgrade older community nursing homes and disability centres by the end of the decade, many of which date back to the 1800s.
The new Rotunda maternity hospital is to be built on the campus of Connolly Hospital in Dublin, while a new National Maternity Hospital is to be built on the campus of St Vincent’s Hospital
And in the area of justice, over €200m will be spent on a complete upgrade of the Garda IT system.
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan has also secured more than €3.5bn for primary and post-primary school building projects, as well as significant funding for the new digital strategy for schools
In his opinion piece today, Mr Howlin says that while the plan is ambitious, the money being spent will not undermine the recovery.
“We are not in a position to return to the levels of exchequer spending that prevailed in the noughties,” Mr Howlin said.
“The fiscal rules – ratified through referendum by the people of Ireland in 2012 – ensure that expenditure cannot rise above the potential growth rate of our economy. The rules are not only fact, they are law,” he says.
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