Sunday 13 October 2019

Kehoe moves to allay fears over flood relief

Overspend on new children's hospital to impact locally

An artist’s impression of the new National Children’s Hospital to be built beside St James’s Hospital in Dublin
An artist’s impression of the new National Children’s Hospital to be built beside St James’s Hospital in Dublin

Pádraig Byrne

Some concerns were expressed in Enniscorthy this week after it was announced that funding would have to be cut from flood relief schemes around the country to help pay for the overspend on the National Children's Hospital.

There has been mounting criticism over the cost of the children's hospital, with the total figure now said to be coming in around €1.4bn. Last week it emerged that Minister of State for the Office of Public Works (OPW) Kevin Boxer Moran would have to shave €3 million from his budget and he revealed that it would be taken from flood relief schemes, some of which would now be delayed.

Understandably, this set some hearts racing on the banks of the Slaney. With local businesses having battled the rising tides as recently as December, the town can ill afford any more delays in getting the scheme operational.

'Like any minister, you don't want to implement any cuts but when you are asked to do it, you do it,' Minister Moran said.

However, he stated that €45 million scheme would not be axed and would rather be delayed by several weeks. He also pledged that 'Schemes already announced won't be touched'.

Fianna Fáil TD, James Browne appears unconvinced, however, and has called on Minister Moran to confirm that funding for Enniscorthy will not be cut.

'I have written to the Minister seeking his assurance that there will be no further delays to the Enniscorthy Flood Defence Scheme,' he said.

'While it is well known that the Government needs to make up the massive overspend, the Enniscorthy Flood Defence Scheme cannot be subject to any further delays.

'Any cuts would make a farce of the Government's commitment to the scheme. For almost two years, the Government rescheduled public information events. Construction was originally due to commence in 2017,' Deputy Browne continued.

Minister of State Paul Kehoe, however, was firm in his appraisal that the Enniscorthy Flood Defence Scheme would not be impacted in any way by the National Children's Hospital overspend.

'There is absolutely no question of any of Enniscorthy's funding being pulled,' he stated. 'I had a meeting with Minister Moran on the matter and he has assured me that there will be no impact for Enniscorthy. That money is ring-fenced and there will be no delay caused by the children's hospital.'

While the Flood Defence Scheme may be safe, Minister for Transport Shane Ross hinted that work on the bypass of Oylegate may not begin as quickly as initially anticipated, despite the allocation of €800,000 for preparatory works last week.

Enniscorthy Guardian