October 3: Capital plan won’t win too many votes

It has been pointed out that much of the Government’s €27 billion capital investment plan, announced this week, was already familiar. For the people of the Mid-West, it was a bit like a reheated dinner: it had its moments but there was nothing especially exciting on the plate. Any hopes that there might finally be a commitment to the long awaited Limerick to Cork motorway were dashed. That is desperately disappointing, to say the least, because when it cannot make the cut in what has been described by Opposition politicians as a long-term wish-list with a general election in mind, one wonders when we will ever see this critical piece of infrastructure built.

It has been pointed out that much of the Government’s €27 billion capital investment plan, announced this week, was already familiar. For the people of the Mid-West, it was a bit like a reheated dinner: it had its moments but there was nothing especially exciting on the plate. Any hopes that there might finally be a commitment to the long awaited Limerick to Cork motorway were dashed. That is desperately disappointing, to say the least, because when it cannot make the cut in what has been described by Opposition politicians as a long-term wish-list with a general election in mind, one wonders when we will ever see this critical piece of infrastructure built.

We reported back in early September that the National Roads Authority has given the green light to the local council for a new road to Foynes, which will greatly enhance the growth potential of the deep-water estuary. Confirmation that the new road has been included in the capital investment plan was not surprisingly trumpeted by Government TDs. One, Fine Gael’s Patrick O’Donovan, was in combative mood when challenging those who found the plan underwhelming to name the projects they would drop in order to prioritise others.

We cannot be certain that the desperately needed Adare bypass will be built as part of this new public expenditure plan, because only three of the four potential routes for the new Limerick to Foynes road would incorporate a bypass of the frequently chock-a-block village. Even if the odds are favourable, it will be five years at a minimum before it happens.

As with the road to Foynes, the inclusion in the plan of a new maternity hospital to be located on the Dooradoyle campus of University Hospital Limerick was not exactly breaking news. The plans to move the maternity facilities from the current, outdated Ennis Road building were made public quite some time ago, although the Department of Health cautioned in June of last year that it could not say when the funds to make the move possible would be available. Following a cost-benefit analysis, the hospital has at least moved closer to reality this week, but it remains anyone’s guess as to when the ribbon will be cut at the front door.

All in all, the Government can hardly be accused of trying to buy votes with this pre-election investment plan.