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 Header Item Cabinet Committee Meetings (Continued)
 Header Item Ábhair Shaincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Matters

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 984 No. 6

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin] Last year, the Taoiseach was able to issue detailed tables of cost for projects on a regional and national basis. Why is he refusing to update these tables? There is a need for honesty with the public in terms of the impact of the billions of euro in overspend on the Government's plans and projects. Earlier, I asked the Taoiseach about the Dunkettle interchange. I appeal to him not to be petty, silly and idiotic in terms of his response by asking whether I am for or against the Dunkettle interchange. The procurement process is completed. This project was meant to be up and running in early 2018, in terms of construction, with works to run from 2018 to 2022. The indicative cost for this project of €100 million has increased to €115 million. According to the Taoiseach, it was meant to go to construction in early 2019. It is now June 2019. I am hearing rumours that the costs are way ahead of €115 million. Nothing is happening on the site and people are mystified as to what is going on.

With the greatest of respect, people are fed up hearing about 2030 and 2040 and that the Government is going to do this and that. Many projects have been announced for the Cork region. The joke around town is, "Sure, we can't get past the Dunkettle roundabout". That project was to happen years ago. There is need for a reality check in terms of the national development plan, NDP. The Taoiseach mentioned the new children's hospital. The national paediatric model references three regional paediatric facilities at Cork University Hospital, CUH, University Hospital Limerick, UHL, and University Hospital Galway, UHG. These projects are at preplanning stage but we cannot get any information in regard to how much money has been or will be provided for them. The language we are getting from the Department is obfuscation after obfuscation. I am seeking clarity from the Taoiseach on the specific projects I have mentioned. Also, will he commit to update the detailed tables of cost on projects under the NDP for the next four years?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am always amused and bemused that Deputy Micheál Martin likes to accuse me of being partisan and personal yet, as evidenced by his name-calling today, he is very capable of being partisan and personal himself. The Deputy reminds me of one of those parish priests who preaches from the altar telling us to avoid sin while secretly going behind the altar and engaging in any amount of sin himself.

In terms of capital spending, the budget for health is €10 billion for the next ten years, running from 2018 to 2028. This means the budget for health is double what it was for the previous ten years. Less than 20% of that budget is for the national children's hospital, allowing more than 80% of it to be spent on other healthcare projects in Dublin and throughout the country.

As Deputies will have noted, the summer economic statement provides an extra €200 million in a capital reserve for 2020. This is an increase in the capital ceilings for next year of €200 million. It is being provided to meet the increased cost of the national children's hospital and the national broadband plan. Other projects will not now be affected because the overspend is covered in the €200 million capital reserve that is being provided for next year. What might affect other projects are issues related to those individual projects, be that planning permission, a judicial review or tendering coming in over budget. We are all aware that construction inflation has driven up the cost of building just about everything in the State at the moment. That is not unique to the public sector. It is a feature of the private sector as well.

The capital plan is set out in the national development plan. Deputies will be aware that in 2018 no annual plan was published yet lots of projects were constructed, including primary care centres throughout the country, hospital developments such as the new wings at Clonmel and Limerick hospitals and the Dunmore ring road in Waterford.

On the national maternity hospital, Ireland's first national maternity strategy, Creating a Better Future Together - National Maternity Strategy 2016-2026, was published in January 2016. It represents a significant development in the delivery of national maternity policy that will fundamentally change how maternity care is delivered. This is coupled with the Health Information and Quality Authority, HIQA, national standards for safer, better maternity services and the first ever bereavement care standards. On the development of the national maternity hospital, the Department of Health continues to engage with the national maternity hospital and St. Vincent's Healthcare Group to develop a legal framework to protect the State's significant investment in the new hospital on the campus at St. Vincent's in Elm Park. St. Vincent's Healthcare Group has agreed in principle to provide the State with a 99 year lease of the land upon which the new maternity hospital will be built. This will allow the State to retain ownership of the new facility. The Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, has sought and received the agreement of both the national maternity hospital and St. Vincent's Healthcare Group that the board of the new NMH Dac will be competency based and will include a public interest representative. The Religious Sisters of Charity have resigned from the board of St. Vincent's Healthcare Group and their shareholding is to be transferred to the new company, St. Vincent's Holdings, CLG.

In terms of progress on the relocation project, work has already commenced on the new pharmacy and the extension to the car park. This work commenced in February and is required to clear the site where the new hospital will be built. It is anticipated that the main project will go to tender in the next few months.

On the Rotunda, it is a longer term project. As everyone will know, the Rotunda hospital is moving to the Connolly hospital campus. We are seeking development funding to allow the planning and design phases to begin within the next few months as well.

On the use of coal and gas, it is planned to take coal off the grid in 2025. We would like to do it sooner but at the moment the ESB cannot assure us that it can be done safely sooner because of the risks of brown-outs and blackouts. I do not think anybody wants the type of climate actions that results in brown-outs and blackouts. If it can be done sooner, it will be done sooner but the target that I have is 2025. It is taken offline from time to time already. It was offline for several weeks last year but the ESB is not able to assure us that it is safe to take it offline entirely now. We are not going to impose brown-outs on people. We are going to do this right. Peat 2027-2028 is the plan to take peat out the system.

On natural gas, it is impossible to say. As I said before in this House, it is likely that we will use natural gas as part of our energy mix for the foreseeable future, certainly into the next few decades. When it comes to renewables, we can get to about 70% by 2030 in terms of electricity generation but as things stand there are times when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine strongly enough. The storage technologies do not exist yet to allow us to store power in the way that we need to. We will need to continue to use natural gas. Absent going nuclear, which we are not going to do, we need to continue to use natural gas as part our energy mix for the foreseeable future.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Thank you.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I did not get a response to my questions, again.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Taoiseach did not respond to my question regarding the Dunkettle interchange either.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.

Ábhair Shaincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Matters

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given under Standing Order 29A and the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy Frank O'Rourke - to discuss the provision of dental and occupational therapy services in Celbridge and Maynooth; (2) Deputy Pearse Doherty - to discuss redevelopment of St. Joseph's and Ramelton community hospitals in County Donegal; (3) Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív - to discuss provision of a permanent Coast Guard base at Cleggan, Connemara, County Galway; (4) Deputy James Lawless - to discuss the strain on the Courts Service and administration of justice in the Kildare district; (5) Deputies Róisín Shortall and Dessie Ellis - to address the funding issues at the Finglas centre; (6) Deputy Peadar Tóibín - to discuss ways to address the commuter crisis throughout Ireland; (7) Deputy John Curran - to discuss speech and language therapy access for young children in west Dublin; (8) Deputy Martin Kenny - to discuss the provision of diabetes pump therapy at Sligo University Hospital; (9) Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin - to discuss the crisis in Naas General Hospital; (10) Deputy Niamh Smyth - to ensure information is provided on the health impact of 5G roll-out here; (11) Deputies Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Thomas Pringle and Joan Collins - to discuss trade union recognition in the health service; (12) Deputy Michael Moynihan - to provide an update on safety works to a road in County Cork; (13) Deputy Alan Kelly - to discuss providing support to school principals; (14) Deputy Louise O'Reilly - to discuss the provision of a primary school on a temporary basis in Swords, County Dublin; (15) Deputy Eoin Ó Broin - to discuss the need for reform of the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011; (16) Deputy Aindrias Moynihan - to discuss an upgrade for Crossbarry wastewater system; (17) Deputy Mattie McGrath - to discuss the need for an inner relief road for Tipperary town; (18) Deputy Noel Rock - to address the issue of noise pollution from Dublin Airport and the effect on the local communities; (19) Deputy Peter Burke - to discuss the delay in the delivery of Holy Family primary school, Mullingar; (20) Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett - to discuss the interest paid by the State on its loans over the past ten years; and (21) Deputies Gerry Adams and Imelda Munster - to discuss ongoing drug related criminal activity in County Louth and its impact on the community.

  Sitting suspended at 3.15 p.m. and resumed at 4.15 p.m.

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