Mary Harney


Roads is the single largest spending item in the capital budget, accounting for 23%, or €1.7bn, of the €7.3bn capital spend this year overall. That's down from 6% from the €2bn spent last year. Of the €1.7bn, €1.4bn will go this year to the National Roads Authority to build and maintain motorways and primary national routes and €321m will be spent on regional and local roads.

It is now likely the NRA grant will be cut by up to €1bn, and 10,000 jobs lost, because at least 10 major projects are due to be completed either this year or early in 2010. No major projects will likely start for the next two years. A decade ago, then finance minister Charlie McCreevy boasted in his budget that he increased roads spending to over €700m. It is not fanciful to assume that road spending during the next two years will fall to 2000 levels – only if the €400m the NRA allocates to local authorities and the €321m central government allocates directly to local authorities this year for local roads is not also cut.


Spending on building and refurbishing social and affordable housing accounts for 15% or €1bn of this year's overall €7.3bn capital spend cake. The budget was cut from €1.4bn last year. The government may be tempted to slash the budget and buy private accommodation from developers. But the government will have to ponder whether the private houses are in the right places of most social need. According to the new Department of Finance figures, every €1m cut from this capital budget line will cost eight jobs.


The capital budget for building, equipping and furnishing national, secondary and tertiary level schools rose 2.4% to €850m this year, and now accounts for 12% of the overall capital budget. Spending on national schools was due to fall 14% to €423m this year, while spending on secondary and third level education projects increased 23% and 29% to €191m and €200m, respectively.

Public Transport

The government was due to spend about €657m on public transport capital projects this year, down almost 30% from the €890m spent in 2008. Spending on safety and development projects fell to €369m from €591m and spend on the Dublin Luas was cut to €159m from €212m last year.

Environmental Services: water

The government will spend €584m this year on water and sewerage services. About €400m goes to fund rural water schemes.


Overall, capital spending in health accounts for €511m, or 7% of the overall capital budget. Spending on building and equipping hospitals was cut by a third this year to €371m. Spend on information systems increased by almost 60% to €30m.


Spread across almost every government department, the 'other items' category accounts for €950m in capital spending, or 13% of the total.