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 Header Item Flood Relief Schemes Funding (Continued)
 Header Item Capital Expenditure Programme

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 4

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy] What schemes that are currently ready to go will now not proceed as a result of this cut?

Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran: Information on Kevin Boxer Moran Zoom on Kevin Boxer Moran I propose to take Questions Nos. 47 and 51 together.

Arising from the Government decision of Tuesday, 12 February 2019, in relation to capital re-allocations related to the cost overrun on the national children’s hospital, the Office of Public Works is reviewing the most appropriate means of achieving the required capital savings of €3 million in the flood risk management area. Expenditure on any particular project or programme in any year is dependent on many variables related to the progress of the project and programme. I can assure the Deputy that all capital projects committed to will be delivered in the quickest possible timeframe.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy I heard that reply earlier and it does not answer the question I have asked. I am asking specifically about schemes that are ready to proceed. The Minister of State knows this area better than I do and he will know that the flood defence mechanisms in Athlone have been divided into eight cells. Of those eight cells, seven have already been approved for planning. The last cell has not yet gone through the planning process, while two of the seven have been substantially completed and two are under construction. However, there are three cells that have planning and are ready to proceed, being Deer Park, the Strand and the lower end of Golden Island leading up to Carrickobreen. Given that those schemes have planning and are ready to proceed, can the Minister of State confirm that these schemes will go ahead this year and the €3 million cut, confirmed by the Minister of State earlier last month at an Oireachtas committee, will not result in a delay to the delivery of these schemes? What schemes will be delayed?

Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran: Information on Kevin Boxer Moran Zoom on Kevin Boxer Moran I assured the House earlier and also assured the Oireachtas committee the Deputy referred to that no capital schemes will be delayed. Some of them are still subject to planning approval. The Deputy questioned the situation in Athlone. He knows well that the division of Athlone into eight cells was deliberately done to speed up the planning process and to deliver the scheme for the people of Athlone. This has been questioned over the last number of weeks. I do not like it when people play politics with flood defences. I disagree with it. I have stated quite clearly that no schemes will be delayed, at Athlone or anywhere else around the country. If there are delays it will be because of the planning process. I wanted to be on the ground in Cork last summer, and it did not happen. I wanted work in south Ennis to have been commenced last year and it was not. That is out of my control. However, the delivery of schemes I have identified is continuing. We are now in the great situation where 90 schemes have commenced. We are working with local authorities up and down the country. I have visited most of the local authorities. We are providing them with the money to employ engineers. We were spending €2 million on minor works and we have now increased funding by €5.6 million compared to last year. That is a big jump in funding for flooding defences around the country.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy Nobody is playing politics. I acknowledged the Minister of State's commitment to the area and his superior knowledge on this matter. I am simply giving him an opportunity to speak on the record of the House about various flood schemes. The Minister of State said at a committee meeting that he did not want to mislead anyone and that there would be €3 million in cuts. He said that his officials did not want him to go to the committee meeting because he would have to deliver bad news. He was honest with the committee. I am asking him to put on the record of the House today the flood defence mechanisms that have planning permission in place which will be delayed this year. I acknowledge again, in case the Minister of State thinks I am playing politics, his superior knowledge of the situation in Athlone, but will there be any delay in completing the final three cells that have planning permission in place, namely Deer Park, the Strand and the lower end of Golden Island? If the Minister of State cannot give me an answer now perhaps he could come back to me with a definitive answer on when those schemes will start.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I assure the Minister of State that every line Minister contributing to the €99 million required in savings or cuts is being questioned about how it is going to be done. The Minister of State is not being singled out; perhaps he thinks he is.

Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran: Information on Kevin Boxer Moran Zoom on Kevin Boxer Moran I have no problem with what the Deputy has said.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath To be clear, at the joint committee the Minister of State said that the €3 million cut or saving will not delay any project and that the savings will be achieved because projects were being delayed anyway. The Minister of State had a capital programme planned for 2019 and projects listed. Can he tell us what projects are delayed that will contribute to the saving he requires? I am not referring to the cuts. The Minister of State should be able to tell us what are those projects. They are not being delayed because of the cut, but are being delayed anyway. That delay will provide us with the €3 million in savings. I am sure the Minister of State can tell the House what projects they are.

Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran: Information on Kevin Boxer Moran Zoom on Kevin Boxer Moran The reason I asked not to go to the committee was because the review had not been done yet. We were asked to find €3 million, and I did not want to mislead the committee. I wanted the correct answer. I did not cower away from the committee. I wanted to go to the committee and wanted to be accurate and correct.

The eight cells in Athlone are currently with the local authority. Permission for one of those cells is still pending. Work is starting on all of those sites. Deputy Troy, who visits Athlone on a regular basis, knows that it is well advanced. We are three quarters of the way through this. The Deputy said that I have advanced knowledge of all of this, so I am providing that knowledge to him.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan This is like the Westmeath county final.

Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran: Information on Kevin Boxer Moran Zoom on Kevin Boxer Moran I live in Athlone and work in it. Many leaders of this House have visited it, but nothing has been done. Work is now advanced in Athlone and all cells are going according to plan. If there is an issue I have no problem with informing the House about it, but there is no issue about Athlone.

Deputy Michael McGrath asked about the schemes affected. A scheme in his own neck of the woods, in Cork, has been delayed since the middle of last year, as he knows. I had hoped to be in Cork already and to have €4 million, €5 million or €10 million spent, but I cannot overcome the objections there. I am facing serious delays, and I am not being critical in saying that. I hoped that work would begin last summer. It did not happen; it was outside my control. However, I assure the House that I am delivering, via the capital programmes investments, flood defences for this country. I do not play politics when it comes to this issue.

Capital Expenditure Programme

 48. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the capital projects to be delayed or deferred in 2019 to 2022 as a result of the cost overruns in the national children’s hospital; when the details of these deferrals will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10630/19]

 77. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if an assessment has been conducted with respect to the implications for capital expenditure projects in view of the cost overruns associated with the new national children’s hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7366/19]

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 48 and 77 together.

On 12 February, I published how the €99 million necessary this year for the timely provision of the national children’s hospital will be accommodated with a minimum of disruption to the scheduled roll-out of key infrastructure projects under Project Ireland 2040. I also detailed reforms designed to ensure better project management across the whole of government.

In health, the scheduled drawdown of €24 million across both 2019 and 2020 will be amended to facilitate delivering the overall investment programme as set out in Project Ireland 2040. Even with this change, this will still leave a year-on-year increase of 25% in capital investment in the health sector in 2019.

The remaining €75 million will be met by re-scheduling decisions around the A5 motorway, which is a project to which the Government remains completely committed; the re-scheduling of payments in relation to the National Forensic Science Laboratory; advance payment of a sum from the Department of Education and Skills in respect of higher education facilities at the national children’s hospital; an updating of the scheduled drawdown of €16 million from the two Project Ireland 2040 funds; re-profiling of payments under certain programmes of investment in the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment; and €3 million from the re-profiling of investment under the flood risk management programme of the Office of Public Works, on which my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Canney, has just answered questions - I apologise, I meant to say the Minister of State, Deputy Moran. The spirit of candidness has dissipated and I will be in trouble for the rest of this session.


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