Balance in the budget
Sir, – With the presidential election debate all but concluded, we can now get back to the pressing matter of the upcoming budget. It is heartbreaking to read of cuts to essential public services, while grandiose, multi-million infrastructure projects, such as the new Dublin to Derry road, proceed.
Age Action is appealing to the Government to reverse fuel cuts, which “is literally a life and death issue for hundreds of older people . . .” (Home News, October 26th).
“Health authorities are cutting funding for homeless services in parts of the capital by up to 10 per cent over the coming winter months, despite growing pressure on services.” (Carl O’Brien, October 26th) Yet, “Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to cross-Border infrastructure programmes, including . . . the main Dublin to Derry road. Mr Gilmore said the Coalition would stand by spending commitments in Northern Ireland estimated at some €466 million.” (Home News, June 4th). This completely contradicts Labour’s pre-election promises. Joe Costello, Labour’s former transport spokesman told concerned groups in January that “Labour would draft a new national development plan if it entered government and every current infrastructure project would be reviewed, ‘no matter what stage of planning it is at’.” (January 14th) He also promised that hearings would be held in the Transport Committee, into the Dublin to Derry road.
But there has been no new cost/benefit analysis of roads projects done, and no hearings in the Transport Committee.
Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, should examine lower cost alternatives to building a brand new road from Dublin to Derry, like he did with the Metro and Dart. Upgrading the existing road and improving rail is the obvious thing to do.
The lives of our citizens, especially the most vulnerable should be at the top of our Government’s agenda, as we head into the cold winter months.
– Yours, etc,
Mary’s Abbey, Dublin 7.