independent

Monday 26 August 2019

Howlin delivers the good news

DAVID MEDCALF

MINISTER BRENDAN HOWLIN walked tall in the corridors of power this week as he landed a €500 million stimulus package for his home constituency.

The Minister for Public Expenditure, pictured below, was given the privilege of sharing the platform with his party leader Eamon Gilmore and Taoiseach Enda Kenny as a €2.2 billion programme of job spinning spending was announced for the country.

And TDs from other counties were casting envious looks in the direction of Minister Howlin and his Cabinet colleague Paul Kehoe as it emerged that Wexford will attract almost a quarter of the money being spent to create 13,000 jobs. The money will be invested in bypasses for Enniscorthy and New Ross, while Howlin's home town of Wexford will benefit from a new courthouse and health centre.

County manager Eddie Breen shared in the delight as the by-passes he has been working to progress for the past nine years were given the biggest chunk of the stimulus investment. With the health centre and courthouse adding to the value of the programme, he described yesterday's announcement as fantastic news for Wexford.

'We are very excited about it,' said the relieved county manager. A former board member at the National Roads Authority, he has been striving towards having the by-passes built since 2003. He confirmed that no construction work is likely to start until near the end of 2014 on the twin roads.

'It has taken a very far sighted Government decision to bring this about,' said the Enniscorthy-born administrator. ' It is very welcome news that these two major road projects are going ahead.' He suggested that the N25 (New Ross) and M11 (Enniscorthy) improvements were given the go ahead because they are almost ready to hand over to the contractors.

For the benefit of anxious, cost-conscious motorists, he stressed that no tolls are involved in the new roads, expected to cost a combined total close to €450 million. One will take traffic from Clough north of Camolin to Oylegate along a dual carriageway. Meanwhile, Waterford drivers will be waving goodbye to New Ross from a height as they take advantage of a bridge over the Barrow which will be the centrepiece of the motorway there.

Eddie Breen felt that a two year construction period would be ambitious and Minister Howlin indicated that he expected work to be concluded by 2018.

No price tag has been put on either the new courthouse or the health centre for which money has been allocated as part of the stimulus package made public yesterday (Tuesday). District Court sittings have been taking place in leased premises at Ardcavan but the Government's cash injection will allow the Department of Justice move to Belvedere Road by converting the former civic offices.

The building, which originally housed the Tate School, has been lying vacant, though planning permission for its new incarnation has come through. Officials are hoping that this will allow the minimum delay in going ahead with the project.

Meanwhile, Brendan Howlin was tight lipped on whether or not the new health centre for Wexford town will be built on the existing site at Grogan's Road. He appealed for local GPs to give their support in order to ensure a prompt start with the building. He looked forward to the new facility taking the strain off Wexford General by providing diagnosis, treatment and care away from the hospital setting.

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