Coalition to unveil Dublin airport rail link plan

The Coalition is expected to announce a multibillion-euro project to link Dublin Airport to the city centre by rail and more than 200 upgrades to schools as part of its capital spending budget document tomorrow.

The measures are set to form a central part of the Government’s last building projects blueprint in the lead-up to the general election before being finalised in the budget next month.

The airport link is likely to be the key element of the capital projects spending document and will be similar in nature to a proposal postponed in 2011 as money was not available at that time.

Under the measure, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe will be given responsibility for a revised metro system linking the national facility directly to St Stephen’s Green.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe

The high-profile project is expected to be given up to €2bn in Government funding and is one of several options recently put forward by the National Transport Authority on how to link the airport with the capital’s main thoroughfare — an issue that has been a long-term problem for the city.

Speaking at a Ryanair services launch earlier this month, Mr Donohoe said the Luas link-up was the most likely option to be included in the plan, but that he had yet to make a final decision on the matter.

The capital projects plan is also expected to include measures for upgrades and extension building works on more than 200 schools across the country, in order to address space issues and widespread concerns over the dilapidated nature of the facilities in some areas.

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan is understood to want to make the issue — which is likely to be backed by at least €1.5bn in funding — a central point of her time in office over the next five years should she and the Government be re-elected, with suggestions some 275 building works could take place nationwide.

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan

The exact details of the capital spending plan will be published after the cabinet meeting tomorrow, before the latest live register figures are released mid-week and the last exchequer figures are provided on Friday before the coalition budget next month.

Reports at the weekend suggested that due to the reduction in the number of people in unemployment and the resultant growth in tax income for the State, Government departments will have between €300m and €750m in extra funds available to shore up gaps in existing services.

The funding will be used to pay for any necessary supplementary budget departments such as health — which is currently facing a €600m deficit this year — might need in 2015.

However, Government officials last night stressed it will not alter the €1.2bn to €1.5bn cap put on the amount of money available for Budget 2016 in any way, insisting that despite opposition claims to the contrary, the Coalition is not seeking to buy the general election by risking the recovery.

With the budget less than a month away, the capital spending plan is likely to act as a starting block for detailed debate on what options are on the table for specific developments, depending on how people vote at the next general election.

Speaking at the Anti-Austerity Alliance’s first annual conference yesterday in Dublin, TDs Ruth Coppinger, Paul Murphy, and Joe Higgins said the fact “half of children in the country are suffering from multiple deprivation experiences” shows a “real recovery” has yet to take place.


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