Monday 20 November 2017

€1.4bn in cuts signal death knell for Metro North and DART Underground

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

MAJOR infrastructural projects like Metro North and DART Underground looked doomed last night as the Government announced capital spending cuts worth €1.4bn over the next three years.

Other areas, like building schools and health facilities, are also likely to be hit.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said more than half of the €1.4bn would be cut next year -- €750m -- with another €550m coming in 2013, and €100m in 2014.

There will be no capital spending cuts in 2015, the final year of the Government's plan.

The €750m to be cut next year accounts for a third of the total €2.2bn in spending cuts for 2012, as Mr Noonan said frontloading would save money in the longer term.

Although it effectively signals the death knell for projects like Metro North and DART Underground, Mr Noonan would not spell out yesterday exactly what was getting cut.

Transport sources have already indicated both rail projects were unlikely to proceed, with the line linking both Luas services in Dublin -- line BX -- now regarded as the only major rail development likely to be built.

The Government will publish a capital spending plan next week, and this will detail exactly how much each department will have to spend until 2016. It will then be up to each line minister to decide how to spend the money allocated to them.

"The €750m for 2012, obviously that implies that certain capital projects will not go ahead but it's a matter for the line ministers to announce. I wouldn't deprive them of the pleasure of announcing them," Mr Noonan said yesterday.

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) said there was a strong case for going ahead with big capital projects in order to stimulate employment.

"The capital investment programme had already been substantially scaled back in recent Budgets and had borne too great a proportion of the fiscal adjustment to date," CIF director general Tom Parlon said.

"The impact in terms of jobs and overall construction activity will depend on how the cutbacks are implemented.

"Within the capital programme, construction and infrastructure spending makes up about 50pc of investment.

"It is vital that this element of the programme is maintained in order to safeguard employment."

Irish Independent

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