My Department’s gross allocation for 2014 will be €1.58 billion. This represents a 5% reduction on the 2013 allocation. While my capital funding remains similar to 2013 levels, this adjustment includes a €75m reduction on the current expenditure side of my Department's Vote, in line with commitments made under the Comprehensive Expenditure Review. The precise distribution and implications of these cuts will be confirmed in Revised Estimates later in the year.
With the budget available to me, the key objectives in the transport sector next year are:
- to continue development of the LUAS Cross-City project;
- to sustain investment in heavy rail to maintain safety levels across the network;
- to invest further in enhancing the quality of public transport through, for example, the renewal of bus fleet for Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus PSO routes;
- to build on our investment in public transport, cycling and walking facilities in key population centres;
- to invest further in our Smarter Travel programme, with a new round of Active Travel Towns; a second phase of the National Cycle Network (NCN); further rolling out of bike-sharing schemes; and the further development of Smarter Travel Workplaces and Campuses and Green School Travel programmes; and
- to implement the restructuring of the Rural Transport Programme.
Roads are also a key portion of the transport budget.
As regards major roads projects, the budget allocation for next year will see:
- the completion of Belturbet and Ballaghadereen by-pass schemes;
- further progress on the N11 Arklow - Rathnew/ N7 Newlands Cross PPP scheme;
- further progress on N17/N18 Gort/Tuam, M11 Gorey/Enniscorthy & N25 New Ross Bypass;
- completion of the R402 Enfield Edenderry Strategic Scheme.
On the expenditure side for tourism, I am happy to report that the allocation of €123m to the tourism programme for next year will be increased through the Stimulus measures announced by Minister Howlin in his budget speech. This funding will enable Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland to deliver key initiatives which can build on the success of the Gathering and a very good performance of the sector in 2013.
At €69m, the overall sports allocation for 2014 is down €5m on 2013. However, I am happy to report that the additional funding from the Stimulus plan for 2014 announced by Minister Howlin will benefit the Sports sector and should ensure that the overall budget available in 2014 will exceed the monies available this year. This will enable us to launch another round of the Sports Capital Programme and commence work on the long outstanding Indoor Arena at the National Sports Campus. This is welcome news for community sports clubs across the country and will increase participation in sports. Clubs will be able to apply for essential works like new changing rooms, pitches, lighting and other projects for the second time since this Government took office. It will also mean that we will be able to fund regional projects as happened with the last programme.
The precise breakdown of this funding will be determined as part of the Revised Estimates process once there is clarity on the overall amount of funding available from the proceeds of the sale of the Lottery Licence.