Waterford academic: Budget 'too centred on Cork and Dublin'

Waterford academic: Budget 'too centred on Cork and Dublin'

Ray Griffin, lecturer in Strategic Management, Waterford Institute of Technology.

The budget announced by the Government is "massively reckless", further alienates regional Ireland, and is too centred on Cork and Dublin, a leading Waterford-based academic has said.

Dr Ray Griffin, a lecturer in strategic management at Waterford Institute of Technology's school of business, said the 2021 allocation of funding was reminiscent of 1977 - a year seen by historians as economically disastrous in the longer-term because of costly populist moves to appease an electorate. 

"It is a further step in the wrong direction as the Government focuses on accelerating regional inequity by investing a disproportionate amount of borrowed money in Dublin and Cork," Mr Griffin said.

"The Irish budgetary process is unusually opaque, all talk and no detail. So we have been told that an extra €4bn is to be spent on the health service, but we have no visibility where. Based on previous evidence, it is likely that more than half of this will be spent in Dublin, where only 29% of Irish people live."

He claimed that the signals pointed to the southeast being forgotten by the Government.

"Capital spending will hit €10bn this year, and again we have only heard of some titillating projects largely in Cork and Dublin. The southeast is 8.89% of this country’s population, but we are certainly not going to get the €890m that would represent a fair share. My guess is that we will get less than €100m in this region," he told the Irish Examiner.

Education provides a stark picture of the perceived inequality of the regions, Mr Griffin said.

"For example, €270m is planned for 20 higher education building projects. It is unclear if any of these are in the southeast, a region that has been promised additional higher education capacity. 

"Next year the Department of Higher Education will spend €3.3bn, mostly in universities. €5.2bn will be spent at the Department of Housing, again with no visibility on whether the southeast will get €462m."

The Government is spending huge sums of money that it does not have, all to appease ministerial constituencies, according to Mr Griffin.

"All of the additional spending will be sourced from borrowing. 

With the singular exception of the misguided bank guarantee, no minister for finance in Ireland has ever spent so much money that he did not have, and it has been dumped into a series of parish pump projects.

"We have no idea how long the Covid-19 situation will continue, and deploying so much borrowed firepower upfront, on uncosted pork-barrel projects, largely in Minister’s constituencies is something Irish society will pay for in a grossly expanded national debt and blunted economic performance," he said.

So-called "pork barrel spending" is defined as using government funds for projects designed to please voters or legislators and win votes, particularly in specific constituencies. 

Pork barrel accusations have dogged Irish politics for generations, with much evidence to back up the charge over the decades.

Mr Griffin called on the Oireachtas to "exercise its duty of oversight on this imprudent and reckless venture".

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

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