Metro North, DART underground plans shelved

Thursday 10 November 2011 22.04
Metro North plan has been deferred
Metro North plan has been deferred

The Government will spend €17bn on capital investment over the next five years.

Just under €4bn will be spent on capital projects next year - a cut of €755m.

The Infrastructure and Capital Investment programme launched this afternoon reveals that priority will be given to school, healthcare and job creation infrastructure projects.

Deferred plans include Metro North, DART underground, Thornton Hall prison, and the Grangegorman DIT single campus project.

However, the so-called BXD project to link the two Luas lines and extend the service to Broombridge will proceed.

In health, over €2bn will be spent over the five-year programme on projects including the National Radiation Oncology Project, the Central Mental Hospital and the National Children's Hospital.

Part of the funding for the National Children's Hospital will be raised by an upfront payment from the next licence to operate the National Lottery.

Some of the health funding will also be allocated to enhanced primary care centres.

In education, 70,000 additional students are expected to enter primary and second level education over the next five years.

Funding will be made available for 20 new primary and 20 new second level schools, as well as extensions and refurbishment for a further 180 existing schools.

€1.6bn will be spent on the water system over five years - for improvements in leakage, drinking water standards and supply infrastructure.

€45m will be spent next year on flood risk management and mitigation. Major work schemes are to continue in Clonmel, Mallow, Fermoy, Ennis, Waterford and Carlow.

Road investment will concentrate on maintenance rather than building new roads.

The agriculture sector will receive supports totalling €800m over the next five years.

The total capital allocation to the Justice Sector for 2012 is €56 million. While the Thornton Hall prison has been deferred, €24m will be made available to provide additional spaces in existing facilities to ease overcrowding and for priority projects including in-cell sanitation.

Exchequer grants for energy efficiency for consumers are to be phased out by 2014.

The capital allocation for enterprise and job creation initiatives will increase by €6m to €514m, but will fall dramatically to €458m in 2013.

Minister for Jobs Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said the fall would be compensated for by income generated by state agencies being put directly into job creation, rather than being returned to the exchequer.

He said that in that context, he was confident that the overall budget in 2013 would remain at or within 5% of its 2012 levels.

Programme to cost 9,000 jobs - Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil has claimed that cutbacks in the capital programme will cost 9,000 jobs next year and that there would be further losses in future years.

Party spokesman Sean Fleming said the cutbacks were excessive and twice as much as Fianna Fail had recommended.

He declined to be drawn on individual projects but noted that Metro North had been halted while the Government had gone down what he called a "speculative route" to fund the Children's Hospital, which was no way to proceed with the project.

Sinn Féin's enterprise spokesperson Peadar Tóibín said today’s announcement would cost a further 7,500 jobs.

“What we are witnessing is a debt-for-competitiveness swap where vital national infrastructural projects are being mothballed and the Irish economy is being physically weakened, because this government has decided to payoff unsecured, unguaranteed bondholders," MR Tóibí said in a statement.