New roads, schools, public transport, housing, and Garda resources have all been promised as part of the Coalition’s €27bn capital spending programme.
However, the plan — which will become a cornerstone of the Fine Gael-Labour election campaign — was branded as “auction politics”.
With just months before the general election, Enda Kenny launched plans for a €2.4bn metro for Dublin, which will not carry its first passengers for over a decade.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe denied the Coalition was spending future governments’ money to win over voters now after launching Dublin’s airport rail link — which will not be completed until 2027.
However, while the multi-billion euro project was given the go-ahead, he said money could not be found for the Cork-Limerick road link as “choices” had to be made based on the funds available.
Under the plan, Cork has been given a “high priority” in a €1bn flood prevention initiative with the OPW’s largest ever defence scheme which is intended to protect some 2,000 homes.
Elsewhere, funding will be released for justice, including €205m for new Garda technology and €46m for new Garda vehicles. Hundreds of dilapidated and out-of-date schools starved of resources during the recession will also benefit from a €3.5bn investment in education, it was announced.
The plan also includes a “digital strategy for schools”, to integrate technology into everyday teaching and improved broadband for primary schools and new computers.
The Government said that all measures in the plan would be reviewed after two years and that all projects had been costed.
The opposition said that many projects in the six-year plan had already been announced. Such projects include the rural development plan, construction 2020, the 1916 commemorations as well as social housing building plans.
Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton accused the Government of dangling projects in front of the electorate in a manner reminiscent of the Celtic Tiger.
Employers group Ibec said the plans lacked sufficient ambition and scale.
Chief economist Fergal O’Brien said: “Ireland has the second lowest spend in infrastructure of any EU country, but the fastest growing population.”
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