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 Header Item Road Projects (Continued)
 Header Item Finance Bill 2014: Order for Second Stage
 Header Item Finance Bill 2014: Second Stage

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 856 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch]   The N21 Adare bypass route was intended to run to the south of Adare. The compulsory purchase order and environmental impact statement documentation were submitted to An Bord Pleanála for approval on 4 March 2010. On 18 October 2012 An Bord Pleanála made a decision to refuse the proposed road scheme to bypass Adare. Principally, although not exclusively, the decision was based on the fact that the Adare bypass route would:

While it cannot be argued that traffic is not an issue for residents and businesses in Adare, given the rejection of the preferred route by An Bord Pleanála, the National Roads Authority and the local authority have to assess options on the basis of that decision. The scheme will have to return to route selection stage and the Minister understands Limerick City and County Council has removed planning restrictions on the southern route. The council has initiated a study to examine the various options to better connect Foynes Port to the wider road network. This study is ongoing and the council is likely to be in a position to confirm the preferred route by mid-2015, at which time it will be able to confirm whether Adare will be impacted on by the scheme.

  One concern raised by the Deputy in discussions with the previous Minister, Deputy Leo Varadkar, was related to the need for pre-planning application consultation with An Bord Pleanála on major road projects. There is no provision in either the roads Acts or the planning Acts for the NRA or road authorities to enter into pre-planning application consultation with An Bord Pleanála on proposed route development. However, the planning Acts make provision for pre­planning consultation on various other strategic infrastructural developments, including transport related projects, with An Bord Pleanála prior to the submission of a planning application. As indicated to the Deputy in June, the Minister is considering the inclusion of an amendment to the Roads Bill 2014 on Committee Stage relating to the proposed merger of the NRA and the Railway Procurement Agency. This would enable the NRA and road authorities to engage in pre-planning consultations with An Bord Pleanála on proposed road developments. It would provide the NRA or the road authority, as the case may be, with a formal mechanism to obtain the preliminary views of An Bord Pleanála on a proposed road development before submitting an application to An Bord Pleanála for approval under section 51 of the Roads Act 1993, as amended.

  I am uncertain whether that answers all of the Deputy's questions, but I imagine the proposed amendment would be helpful.

Deputy Dan Neville: Information on Dan Neville Zoom on Dan Neville The amendment would be helpful for certain. There has been a pick-up in the economy and there will be capital spending. We must plan for the construction of this road. The Minister of State has said the money is not available to construct it, but there will be a long lead-in period. We must be ready when the opportunity arises or when capital spending is provided for. If the economy keeps growing as it is, it will only be a short number of years before this happens. At that point, while we may have the funding available, the plan will not be in place. We are, therefore, calling for planning of the bypass to commence immediately.

The Minister of State referred to the road to Foynes. That would be a good project, if it were to place, but I have been listening to talk about that project for 30 years. I joined the council over 30 years ago and it was being discussed then. It will continue to be discussed in the future. We do not have funding for a stand-alone bypass project in Adare, but the Minister of State is suggesting there is funding for a project ten or 15 miles down the road in Foynes.

The statement was critical of stand-alone bypass projects but most bypass projects are stand-alone. Any bypass project of which I know is stand-alone. The most recent bypass constructed in our area at Castleisland was a stand-alone project. Will the Minister of State point to a bypass project that is not stand-alone? They were constructed where they were obviously needed. It is a new spin to suggest that because a bypass would be a stand-alone project, it cannot be constructed. Most bypasses of which I know were constructed to relieve congestion in towns and villages. There are two bypasses in my area, one in my village of Croagh and the other in Rathkeale. They are stand-alone. Now the Minister of State is telling us this cannot be done in the case of Adare because it would be stand-alone. That is not acceptable.

There must be a level of urgency created to commence the planning of a bypass route. Must we wait another 30 years for a new road to Foynes? What will Adare be like in three, five or ten years with the growth in traffic through the town and the development of the tourism industry in Limerick and the Kerry region? Inaction could seriously damage prospects because people will begin to be concerned about the delay in travelling to some tourist resorts in west Limerick and County Kerry.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The National Roads Authority is suggesting having isolated and disconnected infrastructure is not a good idea. I imagine the authority is right, but I am equally certain that the Deputy is right. The proposed amendment to the roads Act would have a significant impact. All of the points raised by the Deputy are valid. I am pleased that the Minister for Finance has joined us because Adare is probably in his constituency also. As we all know, funding is a key issue, especially when it comes to road construction. I will ensure all of the points the Deputy has raised will be relayed to the relevant Minister.

Finance Bill 2014: Order for Second Stage

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I move: "That Second Stage be taken now."

  Question put and agreed to.

Finance Bill 2014: Second Stage

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The economy is growing at the fastest rate in the European Union; the public finances are under control and our debt is on a downward trajectory. Budget 2015 was designed to sustain this recovery, broaden it throughout the country and continue the prudent and safe management of the public finances that has got us to this point.

The Finance Bill outlines the details of the budget measures. The budget has been designed to reduce our deficit to 2.7% in 2015 as a next step on the road to a balanced budget. The 2.7% deficit is inside our Stability and Growth Pact target of under 3% and highlights the Government's commitment to stable and prudent economic policies. The 2.7% deficit forms a prudent buffer to allow for possible external shocks to the economy and will reassure the markets of Ireland's steadfast commitment to restoring stability in the public finances.

A debt stabilising primary balance is forecast for 2014, an important metric in assessing long-term debt sustainability. Our debt is now on a downward trajectory and our debt ratio will drop below 100% of GDP in 2018. The cost of our borrowing continues to fall and this afternoon the National Treasury Management Agency successfully raised €3.75 billion in a new 15 year bond issuance at the rate of 2.487%, an historic low for a 15 year bond issuance by Ireland. This is the first time the State has issued debt of such length since 2009 and there was strong investor demand, with €8.4 billion offered. The yield achieved of 2.487% is a record low and provides a major vote of confidence in Ireland by investors. By comparison, the yield on the 15 year bond issued by the NTMA in October 2009 was 5.472%.

The policies the Government has pursued and the sacrifices of the people have got us to this point. The fiscal policy must aim at maintaining sustainable growth. As I said on budget day, there will be no return to the boom and bust model of the past. The people have made major sacrifices and the Government will not take risks with the recovery. While the majority of people will not see the full benefits of the budget until they open their pay packets in January next year, for the first time in several years they will see an increase in their take-home pay which will provide a further boost for households and the domestic economy.

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