Yesterday the Cabinet met at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork to unveil the national development plan, NDP, to great fanfare. While the Government may have sought to distract the public with a dazzling performance in that hallowed stadium, the reality is the plan lacked any real substance. There was another glossy brochure filled with projects running years late, project that are running massively over cost and projects that have been announced and re-announced for decades. Regardless of whether it is roads, public transport or housing, there are a lot of promises that have never been delivered. When people read the NDP, they quickly see that "definitely" has become "maybe" or "not at all". One of these maybes is the Cork to Limerick motorway. Comments from various Green Party Deputies, and the Minister for Transport, Deputy Eamon Ryan, already have cast serious doubt over whether this project will ever happen. The wording in the NDP begs the question of whether the Government is actually committed to a motorway between Cork and Limerick. The only sensible people who do not agree with a motorway between Cork and Limerick are those who have never been near the current road. It is unsafe, dangerous and it certainly will not drive economic growth in its current state. Almost half of the road is a single lane with no hard shoulder. The main link between the second and third cities in the State is in parts no better than a boreen. I am sure the Minister knows that himself. Then I looked at the metro plan for Cork. To attract investment into the region, it is essential that we transform our public transport system but that also seems to be a "maybe" and may meet the same fate as the Dublin metro, another perpetual promise, off in the distance.
The Minster has repeatedly stated that ensuring that Cork and Limerick and the surrounding region have the potential to grow, thrive and be a proper balance to Dublin is high on his agenda. It is also high on mine. There is unity in the region that there is huge potential for growth. This about balanced regional development but you simply cannot do that without modern quality links between the other southern cities or without a decent road between Cork and Limerick. You cannot do that without proper public transport either and you cannot do it without a national development plan that is sharply focused on delivery. We need a Government that will be ambitious, that will modernise now and will enhance the connectivity between regional cities in a sustainable way.
We have had a few false dawns on the motorway between Limerick and Cork. Tá mise agus formhór na ndaoine i gCorcaigh, i Luimneach agus sa réigiún i bhfabhar an mhótarbhealaigh seo ach caithfear a rá go bhfuil amhras ann anois.
I ask the Minister not to squander another opportunity to get this done, as successive Governments have. The wording in the NDP raises very serious questions about whether the Government is committed to a motorway. I do not think it is unrealistic for people to expect that such cities would be connected by a quality motorway road. I hope he agrees that the days of short-term fixes and vague aspirations are gone. What we need is to move beyond promises and into specifics. I am seeking a commitment and reassurance.
Is the Government going to build a motorway between Cork and Limerick? What is the timescale? Will we get funding commitments? Is the Government going to build a motorway?