Government’s capital plan to include a new hospital in Cork

‘Irish Times’ learns the Western Rail Corridor will not be extended in the scheme

The Government’s National Development Plan will commit to a new acute hospital in Cork. File photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Government’s National Development Plan will commit to a new acute hospital in Cork. File photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

 

The Government’s National Development Plan will commit to a new acute hospital in Cork but will not include an extension to the Western Rail Corridor.

Ministers are still negotiating with Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe ahead of the expected publication of the investment plan and the National Planning Framework (NPF) next week.

However, it is understood an extension of Dart services to Drogheda, the building of a new acute hospital in Cork and the establishment of three elective-only facilities will be provided for, with one in Dublin, one in the west and one in the south. Dart underground is unlikely to be included.

The Government’s plan will also commit to a significant investment in social housing and will provide funding for 25,000 additional housing units between now and 2021.

Commitments

As expected, it will feature new and existing commitments, including Metro North, the Cork-Limerick motorway, a second runway at Dublin Airport, expansion of the Dart system, a schools building programme, a Garda ICT system and a rural regeneration fund.

Government sources insisted the “political trading” still had to take place, but it was unlikely there would be significant changes between now and then.

While it was certain the Western Rail Corridor expansion would not be included, there was still some discussion about the proposed rail tunnel beneath Dublin city centre but it was “highly unlikely”, Government figures said.

At last night’s Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, it was agreed the plan would be known as the National Development Plan. Referring to it as the capital plan gave the impression it was focused on Dublin, the meeting heard.

The programme for government committed to assessing the viability of the Western Rail Corridor on the insistance of a number of Independent TDs and the failure to include it may cause significant political difficulties.

In education, the plan is to focus on additional investment in schools, especially at second level, to keep pace with demographics. Up to 60,000 additional school places are needed at second level between now and 2025.

 

The Cabinet will consider the plan, alongside the NPF, next week ahead of publication. Up to €115 billion has been committed for spending on development over the next decade. The NPF is an overarching plan for investment and development intended to promote the growth of cities such as Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Galway as a counterbalance to the growth of Dublin in recent years.

It has been substantially redrafted over recent weeks in response to concerns it focused heavily on Dublin and neglected rural Ireland.