Rural areas ‘overlooked’ for capital plan projects

Finance Minister Pashal Donohue,

Government TDs in rural constituencies are set to hit out at the €100bn 10-year capital plan and planning framework today, amid concerns their own areas are being ignored for new projects.

A number of backbench Fine Gael TDs said they are likely to raise the issue at a behind-closed-doors Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting at Leinster House this afternoon in a bid to ensure their constituencies are not left behind.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy will tell Fine Gael colleagues the Government will publish a €100bn capital plan this month, outlining which infrastructure projects will be prioritised.

In particular, they are expected to say that unlike previous plans during the Celtic Tiger era, the new capital plan will be linked to a separate planning framework document to help ensure that initiatives are practical and do not waste money by becoming “white elephants”.

The plan is set to focus on further rollout of the Luas project in Dublin, rail and road developments in Munster and Connacht, education funding rises, health projects including the building of new hospitals, and housing initiatives, in tandem with growing communities in specific areas.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the 10-year plan is needed to “ensure our economy has the capacity to grow” and to allow “much- needed investment in public services that have been neglected in years gone by”.

The Taoiseach has emphasised the need to ensure all regions receive funding boosts. However, a number of FG TDs in rural areas said they are concerned their constituencies may be overlooked, and will raise the issue at today’s meeting.

The meeting takes place hours after Mr Murphy this morning publishes a 2017 housing sector progress report which he will claim shows the Rebuilding Ireland strategy is working.

He will say 25,000 people received new homes last year and the number of social housing units built was three times that of 2016 — a claim likely to be questioned by homelessness campaign groups.


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