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Order of Business

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I too would like to congratulate my Civil Engagement colleague, Senator Ruane, on her award last night for her autobiography, People Like Me. That is the sweet part of my message this morning. The second part is sour, however.
On Monday, the first tranche of €100 million for the urban regeneration and development fund was announced. Of that, €6 million was announced for the new pedestrian bridge that will form a key part of the north quays development in Waterford city. This is a development which will alter the face and the infrastructure of the city, providing housing, jobs and renewable energy for an urban centre which has long been neglected. While this investment is welcome, it is considerably less than the €20 million requested by Waterford City and County Council. While discussing this issue with constituents and other interested parties, all agreed that Waterford could not hope to claim such a high proportion of the total disbursement due to the political optics of such a decision. Understandably this has been met with distress and concern in the city this week. People are concerned that if funding can fall short from particular revenue streams, it could endanger the entire project.
Considering the size, scope and importance of this development, incorporating significant changes to Waterford city’s transport, energy and other infrastructure, do we need to reconsider how such large-scale projects apply for funding from central government? Waterford City and County Council has made applications for co-financing to other funds, including the climate action fund. We are optimistic about a positive result. However, does the Government think that large-scale strategically important projects such as this need a dedicated investment fund to access? It would be a fund that would include funds for transport infrastructure, climate and energy adaptation and more. In order to provide greater funding certainty, the administrative burden of application could be lowered to ensure such co-funding can be delivered in a coherent and strategic manner rather than in an ad hoc way as we have seen.
The regional assemblies could, with some modification, be the perfect bodies to consider and apply for such an approach, especially under the metropolitan areas strategic plans. Considering the extreme disappointment and concern the drip-drip funding approach has created in Waterford, I would like to hear from the Leader and the Government how the existing system could be better adapted to such projects to enable them to succeed with certainty and efficiency.