National Development Plan a work of fiction

04 October 2021
  • Plan has all the hallmarks of a political ready-up
  • Little credibility in a wish-list with no detailed costings and timelines for delivery
  • Climate assessments must not be sacrificed for political expediency

The revised National Development Plan is a work of fiction and has all the hallmarks of an old-style political ready-up, according to Labour’s Finance & Public Expenditure spokesperson Ged Nash.

Deputy Nash said:

“The glossy updated plan is an expensive reheat of the 2018 version. The top line figures suggest the plan will see €165 billion spent on critical infrastructure up to 2030 but we are asked to take these figures at face value with little detail provided.

“How can we take a plan to develop public transport links like Metro Link and the Dart extension to towns like Drogheda seriously if no costings or firm timelines are published?

“If government had the confidence that the vast number of projects mentioned in the plan would be delivered, then they should publish clear costings and the indicative delivery dates.

“Despite commitments from the Minister for Public Expenditure on greater oversight and a pledge that lessons have been learned from the Childrens’ Hospital overruns, the idea that mega projects are to be placed only in broad bands cost-wise suggests to me that the State could yet again find itself exposed to sharp practice in tendering and procurement.

“This form of basic accountability and transparency is the least we should expect from Ministers who constantly remind us how unprecedented in scale, cost and ambition the plan is.

“With billions to be spent, the government must ensure that this plan benefits both jobs and the environment through the attachment of strong social and environmental criteria to public procurement contracts. Tendering processes must also be made accessible for SMEs in order to give communities and local businesses a much needed economic-boost.”

“We have had a lost decade of investment where Ireland continues to play catch-up on crucial infrastructure on transport, health, climate and education and there is an obligation on government to front up on costs and deliverables.

“It is revealing that before the plan was even launched, unnamed government sources were undermining it saying the money is just not there to build all the roads the plan commits to.

“The idea that Fine Gael and Fianna Fail backbenchers could be bought off by a roads programme that might ultimately not be delivered is some hustle and nothing short of political ready-up.

“It is an insult to the intelligence of the Irish people and goes to the heart of the credibility problem of this slick, repackaged but hopelessly vague plan.

“Labour has consistently said that the revised NDP must be a climate investment plan. The climate assessment or scoring system against which projects will be measured must be allowed to work and should be embraced by all decision-makers. Our climate goals cannot be sacrificed on the altar of local political expediency.”

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