Dublin MetroLink - Key we learn from the mistakes of the past.

A new fund set up by the Government this year is hoped to ensure the same “stop-start” mistake made with the metro rail project for the Dublin area will not happen again, a minister has said.

As part of Budget 2024, and using funds from windfall corporate taxes, two new funds were set up with the aim of future-proofing Ireland’s finances.

A total of 0.8% of Ireland’s GDP will be invested into the Future Ireland Fund every year between 2024 and 2035, for an expected total of €100 billion to cover age-related spending.

The Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund will grow by two billion euro for seven years and is aimed at providing resources for capital investment in times of fiscal and economic stress.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said the priority next year will be to invest in public transport, walking and cycling routes because “gridlock would cost us a fortune if we just went down the road space policy”.

The Green Party leader said €3.1 billion of the infrastructure, climate and nature fund will go to climate and nature funding, but it will also be an option when it comes to “really large projects, the likes of the Metro, which have got a huge bubble effect in terms of our capital budget”.

Under the MetroLink plan, a rail link will run through the city centre from Swords to Charlemont, serving 16 stations including Dublin Airport.

“There’ll be certain periods, probably 2026/27/28, when you’ve a real, big increase in your budgets. I expect to be able to use some of that infrastructure fund if we need to, if we can’t afford it.

“Because what we can’t do is what happened the last time. Metro was ready to go in 2011. It was included in the four-year plan. It had €500 million EIB (European Investment Bank) funding loan secured. It had planning permission. But because of the cutting of the capital budget, we didn’t build it then.

“We probably would have built it for a fraction of the cost it’s going to cost now and we can’t make that mistake again.

“When we get to projects, because it’s a very long process we have, we need to make sure we don’t stop-start.

“And I expect the infrastructure fund being one of the ways, if economic conditions don’t allow us to provide from the capital budget, to make sure we do build it, spend it.