FG pours scorn on jobs forecasts in capital spending plans

FINE GAEL has continued to pick apart the Government’s revised spending plans for the country’s infrastructure, by claiming it will create none of the promised jobs.

Its communications spokesman, Leo Varadkar, said jobs were being lost in the economy and the €39bn plan from now until 2016 would only partly plug the gap.

He said €6.5bn was being spent this year on capital projects, which would support 75,000 jobs, but in 2011 the figure would drop to €5.5bn.

This would mean a net drop of 9,000 jobs, mostly in construction, he said.

Opening the new tunnel under the Shannon river, west of Limerick City, Taoiseach Brian Cowen attacked the Fine Gael philosophy.

And he denied there would be no more landmark projects delivered because of the scaled-down budgets.

He said Fine Gael’s sustained criticism of the Government’s revised spending plans was not realistic given the need to save money.

“It’s about seeing what are the priorities and the priorities are very simply this: we have to continue to invest in education. A bigger proportion of what we will have for the future will be in education services, compared to 2008.

“More money for industry supports for promoting industry, for scaling up our small and medium size industry,” he said.

Government ministers have tried to distance themselves from the more categoric indications in the revised document.

Transport minister Noel Dempsey said that despite dropping down the list of priorities, plans such as the Navan rail line would go ahead. He said the project in his own county would be built by 2015 even though it had vanished from the spending plans.

“Once it comes through the planning it will start construction... The money is there for it. It will go ahead and it should go ahead within the timeframe,” he said.

However, Shane McEntee from the neighbouring Meath constituency said the rail line was not mentioned in the revised plan and therefore it was hard to see how the Government could claim it would be delivered.

“The only reference to the Navan railway in the entire document is the Phase I section, which is due to open this year.

“There is no mention at all of the complete railway section. This was a huge blow to Meath residents who have been waiting years for the railway line to re-open. Yet Minister Dempsey now claims the full rail link will be finished and operational by 2015,” he said.


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