Fears lo­cally over im­pact of Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal cuts

DEPUTY CASEY CALLS ON MIN­IS­TER TO ‘STAND UP FOR WICK­LOW’ AND COM­MIT TO PROJECTS

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By DEB­O­RAH COLE­MAN

CON­CERN has been raised that €30 mil­lion of an­nounced cuts to cap­i­tal fund­ing at the Depart­ment of Trans­port and a fur­ther cut of up to €3 mil­lion at the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion could af­fect the long-awaited E-Green­way in Bless­ing­ton and the Bless­ing­ton Community Col­lege school build­ing project.

The cuts were an­nounced re­cently as a mech­a­nism to balance out the chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal over­spend and there is grow­ing con­cern that vi­tal west Wick­low projects could be de­layed as a re­sult.

The long-awaited lo­cal projects were to be funded un­der th­ese de­part­ments and Wick­low TD Pat Casey has called on Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Joe McHugh to ‘stand up for Wick­low’ and en­sure that the county is not tar­geted for cut­backs.

‘Un­for­tu­nately, the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal de­ba­cle is likely to have ram­i­fi­ca­tions be­yond 2019. Min­is­ter McHugh must there­fore get a multi an­nual com­mit­ment that his school build­ing bud­get is ring-fenced and in­creased as nec­es­sary. A com­mit­ment not to cut in 2019 is not suf­fi­cient,’ said Deputy Casey.

CON­CERN has been raised that €30 mil­lion of an­nounced cuts to cap­i­tal fund­ing at the Depart­ment of Trans­port and a fur­ther cut of up to €3 mil­lion at the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion could af­fect the long-awaited E-Green­way in Bless­ing­ton and the Bless­ing­ton Community Col­lege school build­ing project.

The cuts were an­nounced in re­cent days as a mech­a­nism to bring the chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal over­spend scan­dal un­der con­trol and there is grow­ing con­cern that vi­tal West Wick­low projects could be de­layed as a re­sult.

Fol­low­ing a meet­ing with Bless­ing­ton Community Fo­rum and Bless­ing­ton Community Col­lege to dis­cuss their projects, Wick­low TD Pat Casey, who was joined by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, said that such cuts can­not be al­lowed to hap­pen.

‘As a re­sult of Fine Gael’s com­plete mis­man­age­ment of the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal bud­get, plans are now be­ing ex­am­ined to cut cap­i­tal bud­gets - a move not seen since the re­ces­sion. De­spite the protes­ta­tions of Fine Gael that cap­i­tal bud­gets are multi an­nual, this is clearly un­true. We are hardly even into a multi week sit­u­a­tion in 2019 and build­ing projects are al­ready be­ing paired back,’ said Deputy Casey.

He called on Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Joe McHugh to ‘stand up for the peo­ple of Wick­low’ and not al­low any cuts to af­fect th­ese lo­cal projects.

‘Un­for­tu­nately, the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal de­ba­cle is likely to have ram­i­fi­ca­tions be­yond 2019. Min­is­ter McHugh must there­fore get a multi an­nual com­mit­ment that his school build­ing bud­get is ring-fenced and in­creased as nec­es­sary. A com­mit­ment not to cut in 2019 is not suf­fi­cient.’

‘Bless­ing­ton E-Green­way is a project that should have been de­liv­ered by Fine Gael in Gov­ern­ment since 2014 and I and Pat Casey have long ar­gued that this is a shovel ready project that is re­gion­ally im­por­tant for West Wick­low and its emerg­ing tourist prod­uct. I will be ask­ing the rel­e­vant Min­is­ters for cer­tainty in re­la­tion to th­ese vi­tal and ap­proved projects for Bless­ing­ton. It is not ac­cept­able that there is a shadow over cap­i­tal spend­ing in th­ese ar­eas due to over­spend­ing in other de­part­ments,’ added Deputy Martin.

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