As the Dail (Parliament) prepared this week to break for the summer, the government announced a €2 billion stimulus package which could create up to 13,000 jobs.
Some ministers are already planning to re-start projects put on hold by budget cuts last year.
Although it’s the first significant signal since 2008 to ease massive unemployment, continuing austerity measures were highlighted in the justice system on Tuesday when the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny, Tanaiste (deputy leader) Eamon Gilmore, and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin were announcing their new program.
The funding for the program will come from loans from the European Investment Bank, the National Pensions Reserve Fund, domestic bank loans and other potential private investment sources.
Kenny confirmed that the funding is in addition to the €17 billion infrastructure and capital investment framework published last November, which solely involves exchequer funding.
He said the program will focus on projects which are ready to proceed in health, education, transport and the justice sectors.
He said they would proceed as funds became available and as public private partnership contracts were agreed.
Gilmore said that this is designed to increase employment, particularly in the construction sector, whilst also improving Ireland’s infrastructure.
He said, “The projects that we are financing will deliver an important boost to communities across the country and are a visible sign of recovery.”
Howlin said that previous analysis has indicated that this investment package will generate an additional 13,000 jobs around the country.
The package contains €280 million for the education sector to provide 12 new or replacement schools. The health package involves €115 million for around 20 primary care centers around the country.
An allocation of €850 million is being made for upgrading the national motorway and primary route network, and €190 million has been allocated for the justice sector.
Existing courthouse buildings will be refurbished in Cork, Mullingar and Waterford, while new court buildings will be delivered in Drogheda, Letterkenny, Limerick and Wexford.
Ironically, the government announced the stimulus package just as the Chief Justice Susan Denham launched the Court Service’s annual report and said a 28% cut in the service’s budget since 2008 was “a lion’s share of austerity” for a soaring workload.