Monday 19 August 2019

FF attacks Ross over failure to secure EU millions from road-building fund

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross Photo: James Connolly
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross Photo: James Connolly
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

The Government has been accused of failing to take advantage of vital EU funding for upgrading roads and public transport infrastructure.

New figures show only three other countries of the 28 EU member states have drawn less funding designated for roads, railways and ports than Ireland.

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The €24bn Connecting Europe Facility programme allows members to apply for funds to upgrade transport networks but, to date, the Government has had only €103m of funding approved for 24 projects. The UK has drawn more than €341m for 51 projects, while the Netherlands received €508m for 77 projects and Belgium has been given €636m for 70.

Eastern European countries such as Slovakia (€712m), Slovenia (€331m) and Romania (€1.2bn) have also drawn far more than Ireland.

Only Malta (€49m), Luxembourg (€67m) and Cyprus (€63m) have received less funding than Ireland.

Fianna Fail transport spokesperson Marc MacSharry said "cracks" were showing in the country's transport network because the Government was failing to invest. He said that in a recent reply to a parliamentary question Transport Minister Shane Ross said his department would not be making an application in its own right for the current round of funding.

"The decision not to apply for funding is even more baffling when you consider the threat that Brexit presents to Ireland's ties with Europe," Mr MacSharry said.

Mr Ross's spokesperson said the Government had been successful when applying for funding but emphasised there were "a number of hoops to jump through".

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