Wednesday 28 September 2016

€3.5bn to be spent on nursing homes and floods

Niall O'Connor and Emma Jane Hade

Published 16/09/2015 | 02:30

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar

A major spend on nursing homes and a €1bn flood defence proposal are the two central planks of the Government's capital spending plan.

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The plan, which is expected to be in the region of €3.5bn, will also see major funding ring-fenced for roads, public transport and the garda IT systems.

The capital spending plan is due to be discussed at the Economic Management Council (EMC) in Dublin today before going to Cabinet for full approval.

However, a senior Government source said Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin would issue a warning shot to ministers that some of their proposals were "too ambitious".

The capital spending plan is seen within the coalition as having the potential to woo public support ahead of the general election.

It has emerged that €450m will be allocated to refurbish and replace State-owned nursing homes for older people and facilities for people with disabilities, and it is understood that 21 facilities are currently being prioritised.

Compliance

Health Minister Leo Varadkar had previously said that €500m would be needed to help the facilities meet new Hiqa compliance deadlines.

It is understood that the Government will provide €300m for the scheme over the next five years, and that an additional €150m will be raised through public-private partnerships.

The multi-billion-euro capital spending spree has also allocated €1bn over a 10-year period for flood defence systems around the country.

It is believed that Mr Howlin was adamant the plan would fall in line with current fiscal rules.

It recently emerged that the highly ambitious Dart underground project would be shelved.

The project was set to have costs of up to €4bn and senior Government sources indicated that the plans for the country's first underground transport network were being parked due to financial constraints.

Plans to connect the Luas line to Dublin Airport have instead been prioritised and funding for a five-year school-building programme has also been ring-fenced.

Irish Independent

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