Dublin-centric spending threatens Irish economy, CIF warns

Regional infrastructure is suffering as the capital continues to dominate...

Around 30% of the Government's €6.1bn investment in major infrastructure projects is concentrated in the Greater Dublin Area, according to the Construction Industry Federation (CIF).

When the Shannon-Dublin pipeline is factored in, CIF's analysis shows that the proportion of overall investment in road, rail and utilities with a Dublin region focus hits 48%.

The findings come as CIF launches its regional roadmap in Tullamore, County Offaly, this morning.

It is calling for immediate spending on regional infrastructure to correct an imbalanced economy that will put Ireland at a serious competitive disadvantage internationally.

CIF also recommends that the percentage spend of our GDP, on things like roads, rail and water pipelines, be increased from 2% to 4%.

CIF director general Tom Parlon said:

“Effectively we're facing an infrastructure crisis and we believe that we must act now. Every year we're delaying infrastructure investment and that's essentially pushing projects out past 2020.

“So we've had a long decade of under-investment and it's severely limiting the true potential of clusters of industry in the countryside and it's having a very negative effect on balanced economic growth.”

In a county-by-county analysis, Cork only ranked fifth in terms of investment in infrastructure – it attracts a mere €457 million of the infrastructure budget despite being the second largest urban centre in Ireland. 

Limerick, meanwhile, ranked eight in the allocation of spending on major projects. 

Parlon said of this disparity:

"Dublin has grown massively and is a way bigger part of the Irish economy than practically any other capital city in Europe.

"We need to create the infrastructure that will allow an alternative to Dublin. A direct motorway between Cork and Limerick would allow the Cork-Limerick-Galway corridor to become an alternative investment area."

CIF president Dominic Doheny said:

“The formula for sustained Irish economic success is a strong capital city competing globally for [foreign direct investment] and talent, complemented by dynamic regional economies that are all connected by world-class productive infrastructure. Through a lack of strategic planning and demographic trends, the capital has become the focal point for economic growth in Ireland.

“We need to think of Ireland, North and South, as a region that must compete globally instead of our current fragmented approach. In this scenario, for example, Cork, Limerick, Galway, and Waterford are shaped into a hub that specialises in supporting high-tech, pharma, biotech, and life sciences.

"They are connected to each other, to Dublin and globally from advanced port facilities and airports. Dublin may choose to advance towards a financial services and technology hub based on an expanded Silicon Docks model."

The CIF analysis of 24 counties where there is significant expenditure also found that projects contracted by Irish Water accounted for the single largest spending, with over a quarter of the €6.1bn being pumped into such projects