herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Scaled-back Metro and Naas Road upgrade part of €27bn spending plan

Brendan Howlin
Brendan Howlin
Metro North

A revised Metro project to Dublin airport forms part of the €27bn in capital spending announced by the Government today.

A new maternity hospital and up to €600m for social housing was also announced by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and senior ministers as part of a six-year plan entitled Building for Recovery.

The plan promises to create 45,000 jobs and includes:

l A scaled-down Metro North which may be developed over a longer period.

l A €110m upgrade of the N7 Naas Road.

l The Rotunda maternity hospital will move to Blanchardstown.

l €200m for a new garda IT system with additional funding for station revamps and new vehicles.

l Up to €600m for social housing.

l €1bn to be spent on flood defences.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has promised to "pump €27bn into roads, rail, health facilities, schools, broadband and more to make our communities better and our economy stronger".

He said Transport Minis- ter Paschal Donohoe is announcing "critically impor- tant improvements" to the capital's infrastructure.

Having last week faced criticism for shelving the Dart underground, it is understood Mr Donohoe will instead announce a scaled-down version of Metro North.

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It will run from St Stephen's Green to the airport (with a journey time of just 19 minutes) and Swords, via Drumcondra and Ballymun, and will probably include fewer stations than the project that was stalled by the economic crash.

The upgrade of the Naas Road is aimed at removing the last bottleneck in the motorway system linking Cork and Limerick to Belfast via Dublin.

Moving the Rotunda to Blanchardstown will be seen as a major coup for Health Minister Leo Varadkar and Tanaiste Joan Burton who are TDs in the Dublin West constituency.

Also in health, up to €400m will be used to replace or upgrade older community nursing homes and disability centres by the end of the decade.

Along with the new garda IT system, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has secured funding for a forensic science laboratory.

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan has also secured more than €3.5bn for primary and post-primary school building projects.

Meanwhile, the Social Housing Strategy is to be extended to 2021, and between €500m and €600m in additional funding will be earmarked for local authority homes.

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