Jobs another plus to €500m stimulus
The Government's announcement last week of a huge investment in Wexford roads and services is being welcomed
'AN EXTREMELY good day,' said Minister Brendan Howlin as details of the Government's programme to stimulate Ireland's recession-hit economy were unveiled.
The man in charge of Public Expenditure and Reform was to the fore on the national stage in Government Buildings with the Taoiseach and Tánaiste but it was clear that the stimulus package was of particular interest in his own constituency.
'A lot of these jobs will be in Wexford,' predicted Brendan Howlin who explained modestly the reason why almost a quarter of the €2.2bn will be spent in his county. ' The road projects were the ones ready to run. We can move to construction with relative ease.'
'It's pie in the sky politics!' That was the reaction of Fianna Fáil John Browne to the announcement that the congestion associated with the N11 is set to be taken out of the town. 'It is to be welcomed but where is the funding for it? There is a lot of spin attached to this.'
Wexford's elder statesman in the Dáil admitted he is sceptical about the news made public by his Labour rival Brendan Howlin last week: 'When I see the contractor on site, then I will be happy enough to welcome this. It is being talked about as a jobs stimulus but what do the unemployed do with themselves between now and 2014?'
Deputy Browne wondered aloud whether Brendan Howlin's will still be in Government by the time the road building is scheduled to get under way: 'I don't see Labour Party supporters putting up with all the cuts that are coming down the line.
He pointed out that the Enniscorthy and New Ross bypasses were among the first casualties of the cuts announced when the Coalition first came into power. At that stage, it was reported that private investment funds were not available to fund the M11 and N25 improvements. Now the public-private partnership is apparently back on track.
However, John Browne predicts ideological storms ahead as the Government ponders the sale of assets such as the ESB, Coillte's forests and Bord Gáis to complete the financial package backing the stimulus programme. 'I see a major uproar from workers in the semi-State sector. It will be a long drawn out saga.' But the Minister was adamant: 'We have the funding in place.' And he was supported wholeheartedly by his Government colleague Paul Kehoe who suggested that the amount of investment coming to the constituency was a cause of much jealousy among public representatives from other areas.
' There is funding there for these projects,' said the Fine Gael politician. 'I am absolutely happy that the finances are in place.'