Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Dara Calleary has welcomed Engineer’s Ireland ‘State of Ireland 2016’ report on the country’s infrastructure. Deputy Calleary described it as a sharp reminder of the serious policy challenge faced by the State.
Deputy Calleary said, “The call made by Engineer’s Ireland for the promised mid-term review of the long-term capital plan to be brought forward is in line with the position which Fianna Fáil has taken. The government should take heed of this call.
“It’s my view that investment in infrastructure is the most effective means of ensuring we all feel the benefits of the recovery, from more modern hospitals and schools to improved public transport and better roads. The previous Government’s Capital Plan as presented falls well short of achieving this.
“Ireland now lags well behind the OECD average for the quality of our infrastructure. Efficient infrastructure such as telecoms, energy, transport, broadband and water is vital to support national competitiveness and balanced regional employment.
“The Capital Plan announced last October was a lot less ambitious than one would think from the fanfare with which it was launched. The plan represents just 1.9 percent of GDP over the next six years. The average annual increase in public investment will be less than €250 million.
“Ireland needs to take a long term view on infrastructure projects and what this country needs over the next century. This is particularly important in light of the serious challenges of climate change and the need to upgrade our infrastructure to cope with growing demand. This requires long term planning and investment.
“I am proposing the establishment of a new National Infrastructure Commission which would be tasked with planning infrastructure over a 25 year period. We need to go beyond the limited 5 year cycle of current capital plans in order to secure our long term requirements.
“This would be achieved by reforming Transport Infrastructure Ireland and drawing from the Department of Transport, National Transport Authority, the Sustainable Energy Authority and Local Authorities to set out a new framework for the development of transport in Ireland over the coming years. The commission would be tasked with overseeing long term plans for a series of targets including:
– Achieving at least 3% of GDP Infrastructure Investment;
– Decarbonising Ireland;
– A strong transport network that balances regional development;
– Making Ireland an IT nation with telecommunications connectivity;
– A secure, balanced energy mix.