Wednesday, 8 December 2010
Paschal Donohoe (Fine Gael)
I welcome the Minister of State and thank the Cathaoirleach for selecting this motion. It refers to the Dublin underground interconnector, which is frequently referred to as the underground DART. It could provide an underground facility that would link many of Dublin's existing train stations. By so doing, it could free up capacity for additional services and trains to come into the city centre. On its merits, the project makes a lot of sense because it seeks to join up existing infrastructure across Dublin and the Dublin region. I have two reasons for raising this matter. While it will deliver a much-needed benefit to the city of Dublin, all of the cost, in terms of the construction location and where the debris will be removed from, is located in a part of Dublin in the constituency in which I live. I refer to East Wall and North Wall. They will be very much affected by the construction of the project for many years while they will not share in any of the direct benefits the project will deliver. In those affected areas there is great support for the project because of the benefit it will deliver to the city. However, they have important concerns they seek to have recognised in the oral hearing organised by An Bord Pleanála.
The second reason for raising this matter is to understand, in light of the publication of the four year plan, whether the Minister of State can clarify when construction is expected to take place on this project. If the nearest construction date for the project is 2014, as some documentation leads me to believe, will consideration be given to deferring the oral hearing with An Bord Pleanála that has just started? Millions of euro will be spent by the State and private interests in legal representation and the organisation of and participation in the oral hearing for a project that will not be commenced for a number of years and will not be operational for many years after that. In light of the country's circumstances, is there not merit in organising the oral hearing nearer to the start date of the project? This will ensure taxpayers' money and money spent by affected interests will be spent on a project that is going ahead.