Dáil debates

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Financial Resolutions 2022 - Financial Resolution No. 6: General: Financial Resolution (Resumed)


7:25 pm

Photo of Hildegarde NaughtonHildegarde Naughton (Galway West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

This is a budget that invests in essential infrastructure of all modes of travel and supports greater safety and sustainability. It supports the protection and renewal of our national, regional and local roads and in the case of regional and local roads, enhances walking and cycling options along these roads. It supports regional connectivity and promotes maritime safety and security.

As Minister of State with responsibility for road safety, I was very pleased last week to open officially the new safe routes to school programme at An Mhodhscoil in Limerick city, which will help make the journeys to school for pupils safer to walk, cycle or scoot. This project was delivered under the safe routes to school programme, which will be continued into 2023. It is part of this Government's commitment to spend almost €1 million per day on walking and cycling infrastructure throughout the country.

I am also particularly pleased to have secured funding to allow a significant piece of research to take place to understand the barriers and encourage more young girls, particularly adolescents, to choose cycling. I sincerely hope we can instill long-term habits that will benefit not just our environment but also the health and well-being of women of tomorrow.

We have a maritime budget of €109 million, which will be allocated in 2023. As we mark 200 years this year of the Irish Coast Guard, we continue to look to the future of our service. This is a critical service carried out by hundreds of volunteers around the country in our coastal immunities. Funding will be provided to enhance building and IT programmes as well as investment in the search and rescue service, including training and equipment, providing the coastguard with the tools and technology necessary to support it in serving our citizens.

The haulage and logistics sector is one that has ensured our supermarket shelves have remained stocked and that our pharmacies were equipped with medicines and other key products that continued to be available for families, communities and businesses. The haulage sector did this flawlessly as Ireland navigated the turbulent waters of Brexit and Covid-19. Earlier this year, Government put in place a significant support package for the haulage sector to help meet the increased costs of doing business. I hope to be in a position to announce further supports for our hauliers in the coming weeks.

In recognition of the importance of our regional airports in supporting connectivity to the regions and enhancing balanced regional development, the Government has sustained the substantial high level of supports to regional airports since the onset of Covid-19 throughout the recovery of the aviation sector. A total package of €36 million was also announced in yesterday's budget. Funding of €30 million will be provided in 2023 to support regional airports under the Regional Airports Programme 2021-2025. This programme will deliver €16 million in current funding and €14 million in capital funding, which will support our regional airports of Shannon Airport, Ireland West Airport Knock, Donegal Airport and Kerry Airport. This programme also funds Exchequer-funded public service obligation, PSO, air services between Donegal and Dublin. Following an extensive procurement process, a new PSO air services contract came into effect this year, marking the Government's commitment to ensuring continued connectivity to this region.

In addition and in recognition of the important role of Cork Airport to the economy of the south and nationally, capital funding of €6 million will be provided to Cork Airport in 2023. This funding will support the commencement of a significant security screening project at Cork Airport next year. This funding is consistent with the programme for Government action to deliver capital programmes required to support services and ensure the safety of our State and regional airports.

Budget 2023 includes €10 million to strengthen Ireland's post office network. I am acutely aware of the importance of supporting our 900-strong post offices throughout the country, which play a vital role in community life in our towns, villages and cities throughout the country. The funding announced in this budget marks the first time in the history of the Government where we are providing direct financial support to our postmasters. It will give them certainty and stability, allowing them to plan and develop their services. This is part of a €30 million three-year funding package that recognises the central role they play in our communities and ensures families and businesses can continue to access public services close to where they live.


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