Fianna Fáil TD for Niamh Smyth has hit out at the Communications Minister for attempting to sidestep a Dáil motion and set up a limited report into the cost of undergrounding the North South interconnector.

Earlier this year both the Dáil and the Seanad passed a Fianna Fáil motion calling for an independent expert analysis to examine the technical feasibility and cost of the undergrounding of the North South interconnector.  However, the Minister’s proposals fall well short of what’s needed.

Deputy Smyth explained, “The North-South interconnector will be one of the biggest infrastructure projects in this country in decades and there is a responsibility on the Government to ensure that the health and environmental concerns of the residents are properly considered, however Minister Naughten’s proposals fail to address many of these issues.

“Despite the Minister’s claims that this report will “provide a comprehensive and independent analysis”; it shows a blatant disregard for the democratic process by ignoring the recent Dáil and Seanad motions.  The Minister’s proposal has a much narrower focus on the cost analysis and completely fails to take land acquisition costs and the devaluation of property into account.  He is also still committed to the 2018 construction target.  This is a clear indication that he plans to press ahead with the project in its current form, and that this report is merely an attempt to appease the campaign groups.

“This project has been marred in controversy for a decade, and now it appears as if the Government is failing to respect the will of the Dáil and Seanad, which voted for the Government to commission an independent expert analysis, drawing on international expertise, to examine the technical feasibility and cost of undergrounding the North South interconnector.  What is being proposed will fully address all of the outstanding issues.

“I’m calling on the Minister to respect the TDs and Senators who supported this motion and to reconsider the narrow terms of reference to incorporate all of the concerns, which are being expressed by residents and businesses in the North East”.