By Cate McCurry, PA
Ireland’s new National Development Plan has been criticised by opposition parties, who accused the Government of creating more uncertainty around major infrastructure projects.
The plan, launched on Monday, promises €165 billion for a range of projects over a 10-year-period.
However Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said it “lacked” substance, and was filled with projects that are years late and running “massively” over cost.
It comes after Green party leader Eamon Ryan said that not all road projects would go ahead.
The NDP will play a significant role in addressing the opportunities and challenges over the coming years on issues including:
✅A population projected to grow by 1 million people between 2016 & 2040https://t.co/UcROkg9Skp pic.twitter.com/buNwgD1BzW
— MerrionStreet.ie (@merrionstreet) October 4, 2021
There has also been criticism that some of the major projects do not have costings or timings.
Mr Ó Laoghaire accused the Government of speaking out of both sides of their mouth, following Mr Ryan’s comments.
“While the Government might have sought to distract the public with a dazzling performance in that hallowed stadium, the reality was that the plan lacked any real substance,” Mr Ó Laoghaire said.
“Another glossy brochure, filled with projects that are years late, projects that are running massively over cost, projects that have been announced and re-announced for decades, whether they’re roads, public transport or housing, a lot of promises never delivered.
“When people read the NDP, they quickly see that definitely has become maybe, or not at all.
“One of these maybes is the Cork to Limerick motorway.”
Labour leader Alan Kelly told the Dáil: “I’ve never seen a launch of a National Development Plan, which aims to bring certainty to projects, actually create more uncertainty about their possibility than this.”
However, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the claim that no costings or timeframes does not mean real investments, was “just nonsense”.
“There are certain projects, because of their scale and because of the system, that we can’t put an exact date on, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to pursue that,” Mr Coveney said.
“We will move to deliver projects like the N28, even though they haven’t happened yet, we will move to try to deliver on the N/M20 as well.”
Mr Ó Laoghaire asked Mr Coveney whether the Government is committed to building a motorway between Limerick and Cork.
💭a work of fiction
📜a wish list with no clear delivery dates
That's the only thing the people of Ireland have seen since the launch of the National Development Plan
A huge range of projects with no clear direction @alankellylabour raises with the Minister today 🌹 pic.twitter.com/LERcan35mX
— The Labour Party (@labour) October 5, 2021
The Cork TD added: “I don’t think it is unrealistic for people to expect that such cities will be connected by a quality motorway road. I hope you agree, minister, that the days of short-term fixes and vague aspirations are gone.
“What we need is to move beyond promises and into specifics.”
Mr Coveney said there is a “strong commitment” from Government to build a motorway between Cork and Limerick, but said it has to go through a planning process.
He added: “I think that Ireland’s second and third city need to be linked with a proper road corridor, but also we need to look at other alternatives in terms of a rail system that’s fit for purpose to take people off roads.”
Mr Coveney said the NDP delivers a “sustainable development plan” for cities and rural Ireland.
“This is a plan that is sustainable, that focuses on the challenges of climate change as a priority, perhaps for the first time,” the Fine Gael minister added.
“This is a plan that is consistent with national planning framework.”