Mr Noonan, speaking to reporters in Limerick said: “The Cork motorway was in the roads programme when the country collapsed into quasi-bankruptcy. None of the big projects were put in since then.
"The estimated cost for Limerick/Cork was €800m when I last looked at it. It probably is around €1bn now. The full capital programme for roads is around €700m, but it is a priority, but it can’t start just yet due to lack of money.”
He defended the budget decision to promote newly built starter homes for first-time buyers and pointed out how a similar strategy was successful in the car scrappage scheme.
“The economists are saying we should have concentrated on the supply side. When there’s a demand for something, it leads to increased supply. If we can give deposits to people there will be an increased supply. The [building] industry will move to supply the extra demand.
“To give you an exam- ple: When it was done previously, the first [car] scrappage scheme was introduced by Ruairi Quinn back in the 1990s. The theory then was the motor-car business was on the flat of its back — no cars being sold. So, with the scrappage scheme, people were given money and that money expressed itself in demand for new cars and a lot of new cars were sold. So, when there is demand backed by cash, supply responds and that’s the theory of it.
“We’ve put a three-year cap on it and we’ll see how it works out, but I think it will work out quite well. There are builders in cities, particularly Dublin, gearing up already to supply the starter-home market.”
Asked about the abortion debate, he said any initiatives that would take place would happen at the citizens’ assembly. “I think the debate in the Dáil isn’t as relevant as the previous one, now that the citizens’ forum is in place and they have decided that its first priority will be a discussion on the Eighth Amendment. So, we’ll see what comes from that.”