Cuts won't derail €2.5bn metro plan, vows Green leader
THE future of the multi-billion Metro North project is not up for negotiation in the forthcoming Budget, the Green Party leader has insisted.
The project is one of the key commitments in the party's Programme for Government with Fianna Fail and John Gormley vowed yesterday it will not face cutbacks or delays in the December Budget.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey and Fine Gael are also committed to the project, but Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has hinted it should be stalled.
The 18km light-rail system, which will cost €2.5bn, will be the biggest construction project in the history of the State and stands to create 4,000 jobs.
The project was expected to cost €3.7bn but bidders are providing estimates much lower than anticipated, sources said.
Last night, Mr Gormley insisted Metro North is not in line for cutbacks and delays.
"No, we've always said it's part of our manifesto, it's absolutely essential in terms of getting a good transport infrastructure into the city," Mr Gormley said. He insisted there was a firm commitment from the Government to see the project through. "I think frankly to delay Metro North would be essentially to abandon it," Mr Gormley said.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen told the Irish Independent yesterday: "As you know it is part of our revised capital programme we published back in the summer. We are waiting for full planning permission to be obtained. The Government will make the decision from then on, once we see what the planning permissions provides for."
An Bord Pleanala will rule later this month whether permission should be granted.