On February 6th, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny called on the Government to scrap the National Development Plan (NDP), claiming it is filled with “unachievable” political targets.
Speaking the following Saturday 7th February, on RTE, the Taoiseach Brian Cowan, stated that the NDP will not go ahead in all its facets, as it was based on a forecast of 4% economic growth annually. Mr Cowen said that targetted expenditure would see significant investment in higher education and research & development.
He said it would also target efforts to bring business ideas to fruition in order to develop what he called a “smart economy”, and so generate jobs.
Mr Cowen also said that the global economic crisis had shown that membership of the European Union was critical to Ireland’s fortunes and survival. Mr Cowen also said that people were concerned at how quickly the change in Ireland’s economic fortunes had occurred. He said that in some cases things would get worse before they got better, but stated that Ireland could come through this if the ‘right decisions’ are made now.
In immediate response, on the same day, the Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny stated that he welcomed the Taoiseach’s admission that there may have to be alternations to the National Development Plan. Enda Kenny said that the focus of the plan must turn to labour intensive infrastruture projects.
It is unclear exactly what is meant by “labour intensive projects,” but it seems clear that the roads programme is intended to continue without pause or restraint. Just why Ireland needs an enormous roads network radiating out from Dublin instead of connecting existing cities (and their adjacent ports) by an interconnected roads and rail network remains unclear.