Dáil debates

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Appropriation Bill 2020: Second and Subsequent Stages


2:40 pm

Photo of Fergus O'DowdFergus O'Dowd (Louth, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

It is important that my voice be heard like other Deputies from other parties. It is important to articulate on behalf or our constituencies needs which are real and growing. I welcome the Government initiatives in terms of their investment in the east Meath, south Louth, north Louth and mid-Louth areas. Some important projects have been completed.

Considerable progress has been made at Lourdes hospital in terms of improvements, additional wards and investment in its health infrastructure. The extension of the DART is an important and major transport project. I believe it has received adequate funding and that the orders for the construction of the carriages will be issued. While the project's construction will take a couple of years, it will have important benefits for Drogheda and east Meath. It will mean that many more people will be able to work in Drogheda and travel from Dublin. It will also mean that our population centre can grow sustainably. We talk about sustainability of employment and, where possible, keeping people where they live, but 12,000 commuters leave the Drogheda-south Louth-east Meath area per day, which is a major operation.

The northern cross route in Drogheda will cost approximately €60 million. That is how much the county council is requesting. All political parties in County Louth are united in supporting the project. It is a matter for the Minister, who is examining all of the options as to where he can and should invest, but Drogheda town is choked by traffic, including port bound traffic. This morning, large articulated trucks passed through the one-way system in the town centre, holding up everything and trying to get around narrow corners. As a Government, the most important thing we could do would be to ensure that the northern cross route was constructed. The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage has visited and is aware of the issues. He expressed his view on the matter when he was spokesman in opposition. Since he was in favour of the project then, we hope that he will be in favour of it now. Let there be no mistake - all parties and Independents want it to happen.

The Ardee bypass is an essential road infrastructure project. There is money for it. The council is trying to address problems that have arisen around Ardee. Many people are concerned about the delays, but there are those who would be significantly disadvantaged by the change in the route, which only came to their attention recently. I hope that the council will be able to find a compromise that leaves everyone happy by building an additional intersection. Doing so would be beneficial to the people living in the area because they would not have to drive over bog roads and wreck their commercial and personal vehicles.

These are the main issues I wish to highlight. I thank the Acting Chairman for allowing me to contribute. I am glad that I have kept within the time allocated for this debate.


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