Infrastructure projects ‘take far too long’ to complete, says Varadkar

Taoiseach says Government will allocated extra money from windfall taxes for ‘shovel-ready’ projects

Infrastructure projects “take far too long” to complete, according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who says he shares the frustrations of the public about persistent delays.

Mr Varadkar told the Dublin Chamber of Commerce annual dinner that the Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe is now providing quarterly reports to Government on the progress of public capital projects.

He said the Government will allocate extra money from windfall taxes for “shovel-ready” projects over the next three years. Those are projects that have been through the planning process and are ready to go.

“For the longer term, we are investing some of our surplus revenues into two new funds for future generations. We will be the Government to break the cycle of stop-start capital investment.”


Mr Varadkar spoke to 600 guests at the annual event chamber event. After a slow start, the Land Development Agency is starting to build houses, he said, and 500 affordable homes will be announced for Fingal in the coming weeks, he stated.

He referred to the riots last November and the need for people to feel safer on the streets of Dublin and announced that there will be a summit on the issue in the coming weeks.

Addressing the subject of labour shortages, he said the Government has now announced the biggest ever expansion of the employment permits system by adding 43 occupations – from engineers, mechanics and electricians, to social care workers, butchers and bakers.

The Government was equally mindful of the cost of doing business especially for small businesses, he maintained.

“Of course, I understand that smaller businesses in some sectors are struggling to absorb these costs. They all came together at much the same time. We are responding with extra financial grants to ease the burden and examining what more we can do to ensure viable but vulnerable businesses survive.

“We did not spend billions of euros during the pandemic to keep businesses open to see them close now.”

In her first address as Chamber president, Siobhán O’Shea criticised the Government for imposing restrictions on the number of homes that can be built in the Greater Dublin Area.

“We do not accept that Government should seek to limit the development of housing in the many towns and suburbs of the city that make up its hinterland, particularly where these towns are well served by public transport,” she told chamber members.

“Public transport is indeed a key enabler for the city to function. It is one of the basics – an essential element in any city’s infrastructure. The density and population growth in the Dublin region suggest to us that the returns vastly outweigh the costs, and that projects such as Metrolink, Bus Connects and Dart Plus can lead the way in Ireland’s drive to meet its carbon emission targets.”

Ms O’Shea also criticised proposals to limit the number of passengers using Dublin Airport. Access to Dublin Port and Dublin Airport should be allowed to continue “without unnecessary and artificial constraints”.

She said Dublin Chamber will support the idea of a directly elected mayor for the city. If a referendum on the proposal is defeated, she suggested that Dublin should have a minister at Cabinet.

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Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times