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Taoiseach ‘frustrated’ over public capital project delays

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said far too many important public capital projects are taking too long to reach completion.

As a result, he has asked his Cabinet colleague Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe, to provide quarterly reports to Government and take a more hands-on approach.

He said there was a need to get on with major public transport projects like BusConnects, Dart+ and Metrolink.

He told an audience at Dublin Chamber’s AGM dinner this evening: “I’m as frustrated as you at how long these projects are taking.”

He said in the short term, some extra money would be allocated from windfall taxes for what he called “shovel-ready” projects over the next three years.

In the longer term, he said some surplus revenues would be invested in two new funds for future generations, saying the Government wanted to “break the cycle of stop-start capital investment”.

He said the Luas Cross-City line had increased Green Line passenger numbers by 25% within one year and this showed people would switch from cars if there were better options available.

Mr Varadkar noted Dublin Chamber was broadly supportive of Dublin City Council’s plans to reduce traffic and pedestrianise parts of the city, adding that it was important to “get the balance right”, taking on board the needs of business, workers and less mobile people in the city centre.

He said Ireland’s rapid growth had led to pressure points. He said he knew housing was closely linked to a skills shortage and that “too many people are put off by the rental market, particularly in Dublin and they decline a job offer as a result”.

The Taoiseach said this needed to change and that while the Government’s ‘Housing for All’ plan was working, progress was not coming quickly enough. He said more ambitious targets for home building would be set.

The incoming President of Dublin Chamber Siobhan O’Shea has warned about Dublin’s vulnerabilities including housing, infrastructure and a current skills shortage.

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