Thursday 8 December 2016

Ross denies disappointment at lack of 'big ticket' items

Cormac McQuinn and Eddie Cunningham

Published 12/10/2016 | 02:30

Minister Shane Ross outside goverment buildings for budget 2017. Pic:Mark Condren
Minister Shane Ross outside goverment buildings for budget 2017. Pic:Mark Condren

Transport Minister Shane Ross has denied he is disappointed that there is no new 'big ticket' capital spending measures for his department in the Budget.

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Funds for major projects such as Metro North and the expansion of the Dart system in Dublin are not in Budget 2017, with much of the spending allocated to Transport to go on maintaining the roads system.

Despite the lack of such spending, Mr Ross insisted he was "absolutely delighted" with the €72m in extra funding allocated to his department.

Mr Ross said the primary focus of his department's Budget measures would be road and bridge maintenance, to the tune of €275m, and that he never thought he would announce "with pride" that he is now "the Minister for Fixing Potholes".

He added that "it is not necessarily exciting or new" but that road repairs were "an urgent priority".

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe has provided funds for existing projects such as Luas Cross City, and road projects in Galway and Wexford.

Read more: 'Minister for fixing potholes' Shane Ross confirms 170 new buses and completion of Luas 'on budget and on time'

Mr Donohoe said Metro North and the Dart expansion remained "priorities".

Funding

Mr Ross promised that "a lot of big ticket items" would be in the mid-term review and on Luas Cross City he pledged it would be "on budget and on time".

Meanwhile, he put a year-on-year 17pc reduction in funding for sport down to a once-off expenditure of €22m on the National Indoor Arena.

He said there was actually a €3m increase when that exceptional item was taken out.

There will be a Sports Capital Programme for clubs and projects around the country next year.

The department has just €1m more to help market Ireland as a tourism destination to help offset the threat of Brexit.

Junior Minister Patrick O'Donovan defended the sum, saying it was part of a total of €36m in overseas marketing expenditure. He said the department was monitoring the "evolving" Brexit situation and that funding for marketing "may be something that we will have to revisit in the future".

Overall, the department's expenditure allocation of €1.8bn is a 4pc increase. There is an extra €33m (11pc rise) for public transport service contracts as well as for rural transport.

Dublin is to get 100 new buses, with Bus Éireann getting 70; the rail network is to get €160m for maintenance.

Irish Independent

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