The Government had a cabinet meeting at University College Cork this week where they signed off on the NDP. Photo: Daragh Mac Sweeney/Provision

NDP is aspirational

The latest National Development Plan (NDP) was published this week by the Government amid much fanfare at the launch in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

The plan promises €165 billion in funding for a range of projects over 10 years.

Governments love these things. It’s an opportunity to shower every constituency with wonderful gifts and treasures. Some of the projects have already been revealed, announced and heralded previously. Some of them have been launched twice before. No matter, it’s another opportunity to grab some credit.

The best thing of all though, is that all these major capital investments may never happen at all. It’s just a plan after all, and another government may be in place by the time the deadlines pass for the completion of a project.

The list of road projects announced was a case in point. The presence of the Green Party in Government may be the reason for the big disclaimer in relation to all the roads on the list bar three.

Three projects are listed as definitely going ahead. They don’t include any of the Cork projects. A long list of 31 roads at the proposed stage was also published. The four Cork road projects listed were all previously announced in 2018 and include the M20 Cork to Limerick Road, the N25 Carrigtwohill to Midleton, the N72/73 Mallow Relief Road and the controversial M28 Cork to Ringaskiddy road.

Also included is the development of a €185 million Cork suburban rail network between Mallow, Midleton and Cobh by 2026, along with a host of other projects including investment for both the Cork University Business School (CUBS) and the MTU's Cork campus.

In the Dáil on Tuesday, Sinn Féin TD for Cork South Central Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney if he could confirm that the Cork and Limerick road would be a motorway. Of course, Coveney could not do this, as Ó Laoghaire would have known. So then the Sinn Féin TD got to say that Coveney couldn’t confirm it.

To be fair, in the NDP the road is referred to as the N/M20 which certainly doesn’t offer too much hope. See page 8 for more coverage on the M20.

Previously it had been described as the M20. And Labour leader Alan Kelly was on the case too suggesting the plan had “gone into Neverland”.

Deputy Ó Laoghaire also said: “The only people who don’t agree with a motorway between Cork-Limerick are people who haven’t been near the current road. It is unsafe, dangerous and it certainly won’t drive economic growth in its current state.” I certainly would agree with that, it’s a pretty dangerous and terrible road for long stretches.

However I guess that political grandstanding can come in a variety of forms!