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National Development Plan: Motion [Private Members] (Continued)

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 983 No. 4

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall]  In just the second sentence of the national development plan the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance state: "This ambitious plan will drive Ireland’s long term economic, environmental and social progress across all parts of the country over the next decade". On many levels but particularly in respect of the environment, that is simply not true. There is not enough in the plan to lead Ireland to a carbon neutral position. It will take a completely new plan to achieve that objective. In the meantime, this House has declared a climate emergency and if it is to mean anything at all, it behoves us to go back to the plan to ensure dealing with that emergency is a central aim of it.

The Climate Action Fund is just €500 million, while a high proportion of other environmental related funding comes from non-Exchequer sources. For example, there is more funding committed to roads than public transport. The plan for a low-carbon agriculture sector is also less than convincing. Rather than concentrating on the development of new beef markets, the Government should be concentrating on diversification in farming.

It is clear that there is not enough emphasis on public transport in the national development plan. Much of the funding earmarked for public transport will not result in new delivery but will go towards maintenance and rehabilitation. We need to cover renewal needs, while also investing extensively in new projects. At least €10.2 billion will be spent on roads under the plan, whereas the total public transport spend will be €8.6 billion. At the very least, these positions need to be reversed. We have some of the slowest moving cities in the world. This undermines our competitiveness and adds significantly to the cost base of the economy. The more we emphasise roads over public transport the worse it will become.

I reiterate the call made in the motion. Given that we accept that we have a climate emergency and that there have been such substantial cost overruns on a number of major projects, it behoves this House to insist on the Government reappraising the entire national development plan and refocusing it in a way that will ensure value for money and the protection of the environment.

  Amendment put.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl In accordance with Standing Order 70(2), the division is postponed until the weekly division time on Thursday, 13 June.

  The Dáil adjourned at 9.55 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 12 June 2019.

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