Dáil votes to overhaul National Development Plan to address climate change and overspending

Dáil votes to overhaul National Development Plan to address climate change and overspending

Dáil votes to overhaul National Development Plan to address climate change and overspending

The Dáil has voted to overhaul the National Development Plan to increase climate change measures and address massive overspending.

The Government is now under pressure to go back to the drawing board and scrap planned road upgrades and other infrastructure projects in favor of cycle lanes and public transport.

The Social Democrats' private members' motion, which called for a complete reassessment of the National Development Plan given significant overspending on the National Broadband Plan and the National Children's Hospital, passed by 79 votes to 38.

Social Democrats co-leader, Catherine Murphy, said the vote must now be a "wakeup call for the Fine Gael government to get to grips with the public finances and also to respond effectively and fairly to the accelerating impacts of global warming".

“The estimated cost of the National Children's Hospital has doubled in six years and is now heading towards €2bn, while the cost for the National Broadband plan has shot up by 500%."

Green leader, Eamon Ryan, whose party tabled an amendment to force the State to meet 2030 emissions targets, said the Government "saw no need" to climate assess the National Development Plan prior to publication:

This amendment sends an important signal from the Dáil to the Government that the National Development Plan is not fit for purpose and will lead to a massive failure to meet our emissions targets.

The Government also lost a vote which demanded the restoration of allowances to members of the Defence Forces.

Fianna Fáil had called for the full restoration of pay, pensions or allowances to pre-FEMPI levels in a bid to tackle the recruitment and retention crisis in the Defence Forces.

However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had this week ruled out any increases to the Defence Forces claiming it would be unfair to prioritise one public sector group over all others.

Fianna Fáil highlighted the fact that in March of this year there were 8,847 personnel, compared to 9,057 at the end of February 2018 and the turnover rate in the Defence Forces now stands at 9%.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Fianna Fáil defence spokesman, Jack Chambers, said: "Fine Gael’s approach to the Defence Forces has all the hallmarks of a covert attempt to wind down and emasculate the service to a point where it is no longer viable.

"We will not allow this to happen and are determined to ensue that the current crisis is resolved.”

In the Dáil Independents 4 Change TD, Mick Wallace, hit out at the Taoiseach and pointed to CSO figures that show that members of the Defence Forces are the lowest-paid workers in the public service: "Some 85% are earning less than the average industrial wage.

"That does single out the members of the Defence Forces."

Mr Wallace accused the Government of "throwing money at things like new ships for the Naval Service" instead of properly paying members of the force: "A sum of €60 million extra was given to defence in the budget last year.

"It materialised into a 4% increase in pay for personnel but a 37% increase in spending on equipment. That is where the money is going."

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