Micheál Martin says National Development Plan is 'in shreds'

Fianna Fáil has hit out at the Government for now spending almost €10bn on three projects that are all billions over budget.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said the National Development Plan is now "in shreds" and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe can no longer say he will find the extra money for the spiralling cost of rural broadband, the national children's hospital and the proposed metro in Dublin.

"What the ministers and the Government are announcing is not grounded in reality," Mr Martin said of the Cabinet decision to press ahead with the consortium led by David McCourt to deliver the National Broadband Plan (NBP) which will no cost the State €3bn.

"There is clearly an electoral context to this, this is promising the sun, moon and stars again to rural Ireland, two weeks out from a local election, but rural Ireland are now quite cynical at this stage in terms of the broadband story because they have been promised this for seven years and every single target has been missed and every promise has been broken," Mr Martin said.

Mr Martin said his party are in favour of setting up an agency within the ESB to deliver broadband.

Referring to a number of projects which are now billions of euro over budget, Mr Martin said the credibility of the National Development Plan, has been "torn to shreds".

If you take the National Children's Hospital, that has gone to €2bn from around €500m, that's €1.5bn of an increase, the broadband plan as late as September 2017 has gone from €800m to €3bn no one has explained it, bar the Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure who said the public spending code has been breached, he said we had agreed €800m as the baseline estimate for this.

However, since then Mr Martin said the cost of providing rural broadband has "suddenly ballooned" to €3bn.

"So you have the children's hospital ballooning to €2bn, you have a broadband plan ballooning to €3bn and the Department saying we are going to have to find €1bn in the next three or four years to look after about 1,500 social houses, hundreds of primary schools, a range of other services in health, primary care centres."

He also pointed to the Taoiseach who said the new Metro will be €5bn, which he said was another €1.5bn to €2bn extra.

"What kind of planet are they living on? You are up to nearly €10bn on three projects, the National Development Plan has absolutely no credibility as we speak here today, no credibility," he said.

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