Concerns raised over stimulus
The Government’s €2.25 billion stimulus plan has broadly been welcomed in the city and county but concern over the method of funding the projects has been raised.
The announcement was made on Tuesday by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, and includes several attempts to deliver on infrastructural projects around the country.
The bulk of projects will be delivered under Public Private Partnerships (PPP), a tool to keep high capital spending off the Government’s balance sheets, something criticised by University College Cork academic Dr Aodh Quinlivan as “laziness.”
“They do have a role to play, I just feel that Governments over the past 15 years have tended to overuse them,” said Dr Quinlivan, a lecturer in the Department of Government.
“I would prefer to see each project taken case by case, rather than a blanket usage of the PPP structure. There is a template for roads that does work with PPP but when you move into a service-led approach, then I would be worried.”
We do need a growth and stimulus package coupled with the austerity package and if the Government realises it’s jobs at least on a short-term basis then that is to be welcomed.”
However, Cork only receives four projects in the stimulus, one of which is refurbishments to the courts in the Cork region. Skibbereen is to receive a new school building amalgamating three schools – Mercy Heights, Rossa College and St Fachtna’s De La Salle, with approximately 1,000 pupils.
“The idea of amalgamating these schools has been pushed around for years and the logical thing to do is to bring them together once and for all. Skibbereen, and the students involved, will most certainly benefit from the move,” said Deputy Noel Harrington (FG).
“Some of the buildings which house these three schools are in need of some level of repair. It makes perfect sense, as part of the €280 million provided the education sector under this plan, to build a replacement school instead of pouring money into restoration works. By building new premises we will stimulate the local economy, create jobs in the badly hit construction sector and ensure cost saving measures for the State.
The move was also welcomed by teaching union the ASTI, who described the building of a new school as "essential." The union is to work with the Department of Education to ensure that no job losses occur from the amalgamation.
Cork City also secured two new primary care facilities in Togher and Gurranbraher, where shared premises between all healthcare professionals will allow patients a one stop shop in those areas for healthcare.
“I was delighted to see Gurranabraher included in the list of locations being earmarked for new Primary Care centres,” said Cork North Central TD Dara Murphy.
“The provision of primary care at a local health centre is a fantastic resource in any community, and this new centre will also help to alleviate the pressures on the hospitals across Cork city.”
“A focus on primary care not only benefits patients, it will also benefit the taxpayer. By allowing patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, stroke and asthma, to be treated near or at their homes, we can save the health service millions of euro by preventing hospital stays.”