Donohoe says there are many reasons to go ahead with road projects
Green Party leader told to ‘hold your fire’ until national capital plan is published
Paschal Donohoe: “Much as I would like it to be, public transport cannot be the answer to connectivity for all parts of our country”
Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe has defended State funding for road projects amid criticism of the Government’s handling of climate change.
In sharp exchanges with Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Mr Donohoe said he recognised the value of public transport, but he also had to recognise that there were many reasons for going ahead with road projects.
“Much as I would like it to be, public transport cannot be the answer to connectivity for all parts of our country. We have certain road links that need to be safer and of a better quality than they are at present.”
Mr Donohoe told Mr Ryan that “if I do not respond to that need I run the risk of creating other difficulties in the future”.
Mr Ryan claimed “the plan within the national planning framework is all about interurban motorways. There are not public transport projects listed other than Metro North.”
He asked what the Government was doing when the latest figures showed Ireland’s emissions rising particularly in transport. The Dublin Bay South TD highlighted the “damning criticism” by the advisory committee on climate change of the national mitigation plan.
However, the Minister urged the Deputy “to hold your fire with regard to public transport until you see the plan”.
“You’ve already made up your mind even though the plan has not yet been published. You have many powers but I didn’t realise you have the ability to read my mind.”
Mr Ryan said there was nothing in the national planning framework about the Dart interconnector, light rail for Cork or Galway or “any of the public transport projects the Green Party would want in our cities”.
The Minister said the planning framework “will not reference capital projects”. He would publish the national capital plan early in the first quarter of next year, and “it will have an even more strengthened investment component to deal with the challenge of climate change”.