Tuesday, 11 June 2019
National Development Plan: Motion [Private Members]
I wish to speak about issues specifically pertaining to my constituency of Cork South-West. The national planning framework and the national development plan were launched amid much media hype. However, this has long since waned and the truth is that the Government has failed to deliver on a massive scale. I have listened to hours of spin at the health committee on the delivery of the national children's hospital. Where are we today? We are waiting on a hospital that will cost almost €550 million extra. We are now in a position where other projects around the country will be greatly impacted on. This is inevitable no matter what the Minister tries to claim. Essential services such as respite and endoscopy units in Bantry General Hospital could now be put on the long finger.
Numerous broadband plans have come and gone, each having missed its deadline. At the end of it all, what do we actually have?
We have nothing more than confirmation that it will cost six times more than the initial price. I genuinely believe some Ministers do not appreciate how detached the Government has become from rural Ireland. I know of areas in which there is no broadband coverage and no mobile phone coverage. I know of areas in which one might send an email in the hope it may be delivered 30 minutes later. How can we expect to attract investment into places like west Cork, areas which have great things going for them, if we cannot even offer basic broadband coverage?
If I may once again refer to Bantry General Hospital, its staff attempt to run high-tech equipment in the course of their daily duties but the IT infrastructure available to them does not lend itself to same. We are talking about people's livelihoods and, in this case, people's lives. It is simply unacceptable.
Today I heard members of Government continuously make reference to the fact that the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council is only an advisory body. If the Government is not willing to take its advice on board, is its existence surplus to the Government's requirements? This haphazard approach has to stop. As stated previously, it is for this reason we will be supporting this motion and the amendments.