Dáil debates

Wednesday, 15 May 2024

Future Ireland Fund and Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund Bill 2024: Report and Final Stages


4:20 pm

Photo of Joe FlahertyJoe Flaherty (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I will not be supporting amendments No. 6 and 7 but they give me a segue to raise a concern I have. I hope the Minister will be able to allay it in his closing remarks.

The Future Ireland Fund and Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund Bill is hugely important. The Minister has championed it and I commend him on it. It will allow us to protect pensions and the health service in the future. It will provide sustained investment in transport, nature restoration, community facilities and affordable sustainable energy solutions. The Minister will probably point to the sustainable and responsible strategy run by the NTMA and ISIF. I have had a look at it. Balanced regional development does not feature in it, nor do I see in it a weighting for communities that have paid the biggest price for progress or decline. In that regard, I point to economic collapse and challenges or, in the case of the midlands, for example, the fast-tracking of decarbonisation for the midland counties. Longford and Offaly have paid the biggest price. As it stands, as a TD for the midlands, there is nothing to convince me that the two funds will prioritise or safeguard the future interests of the midlands and County Longford and ensure balanced regional development. The concern will always be that the funds will be used for the vanity projects of the day, be it another runway for Dublin Airport or a further expansion of the Luas. We have plenty of practical examples of that at the moment, such as the delay in the upgrade of the N4 from Mullingar to Roosky. Will the Minister address that issue and give some reassurance that both funds will ensure balanced regional development?


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