Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has increased capital spending, including spending on schools, hospitals and roads, in Budget 2018 by €790mn.
“This will bring Ireland’s public investment levels to among the highest in the European Union and will ensure we can deliver crucial projects in areas such as housing, roads and schools,” Donohoe said.
This rise will bring total spending on projects, including the widening of the M7 motorway and the National Indoor Arena in Blanchardstown, Dublin, to €5.3bn in 2018.
There will be an extra €9.6mn for transport that the minister said would support increased public transport and improvements to the Republic’s roads.
Day-to-day spending on this area will increase to €414mn next year as a result, Donohoe noted.
The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has €7.5bn to spend on building roads, sports facilities and other infrastructure over the four years to 2021.
“This increased investment will deliver better public services, promote more balanced economic growth and help address the many challenges such as Brexit and climate change,” Donohoe continued.
“We cannot repeat old mistakes. Ramping up capital expenditure by too high a level, for example, would be a dangerous and simplistic policy.
“It would very clearly risk excessive inflation, and the overheating of the construction sector and, therefore, our economy. This, in turn, would deliver poor value for money for the taxpayer.”
Donohoe said infrastructure investment was “central to our response to Brexit and will allow our State, and its agencies, to properly plan major infrastructure projects over the medium-term while also ensuring communities and businesses can plan ahead”.
He said a number of key projects were “already having a real impact on improving people’s lives” and he referenced the recent opening of the Gort to Tuam motorway in Co. Galway, a new emergency department at Limerick University Hospital and the renovated Pairc Uí Chaoimh in Cork.
Housing, too, will benefit from Budget 2018, with Donohoe allocating €1.83bn for the coming year.
“Some 3,800 new social homes will be built next year by local authorities and approved housing bodies” he said.
“Housing remains a crucial priority for the Government. Our actions to support the sector, though, are bearing fruit.
“Commencement notices for new housing are up by 47%. Planning permissions are up by 49%. We are increasing our ambitions for what we will build directly.
“In addition to these extra resources next year, I am today also announcing an additional commitment to further accelerate the delivery of social housing from 2019.
“I am providing an extra €500 million for the direct building programme that will see an additional 3,000 new build social homes by 2021, as well as increasing the existing Rebuilding Ireland target of social housing homes to 50,000, of which 33,500 will be delivered through construction.”