The infrastructure of transport, communications and energy systems are the backbone of a modern economy.

Our Plan For Better Infrastructure

Quality Public Transport

A shift away from carbon intense, car-based transport towards high-capacity public transport options

Build Smart Cities

A shift away from carbon intense, car-based transport towards high-capacity public transport options

Infrastructure Investment

Over a billion euro additional funding for water infrastructure, communications and energy systems and other capital projects.

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Developing Public Transport
Comprehensive development of our public transport infrastructure is in Ireland’s vital social and economic interest.

However, historical investment in high capacity solutions like rail has been lacking; and big public transport projects are too often victim of short-term political considerations.

While a high-quality road network is essential and requires investment to be delivered, this should not be at the expense of better-capacity, cleaner and more efficient forms of public transport which can serve as viable alternatives to car-based travel.

The Social Democrats believe that future population growth, particularly in our urban centres, must be adequately planned for today in terms of transport provision if we are to avoid unsustainable urban sprawl, disconnected communities and ever-increasing car commutes.

To do this we need to support a modal shift away from carbon intense, car-based transport towards high-capacity public transport options. We must also drastically reduce emissions in transport if we are to meet emissions reduction targets.

Our priorities include:

Investment in better public transport

  • Rebalancing capital spending in public transport incrementally, ensuring capital spending on roads is at least matched by capital spending on other forms of public transport on a multi-annual basis.
  • Encouraging greater use of public transport by reducing public transport fares – see Cost of Living for more details.
  • Building the DART Underground in Dublin city at the earliest practicable date.
  • Delivering new road infrastructure where there is a critical need, e.g. a high-grade connection between Cork, Limerick and Galway.
  • Reviewing current regulations governing taxi-drivers, with a particular focus on age of vehicle requirements, and improve consultation processes with the industry.

Integrated transport for commuters

  • Examining ways to rollout a national smart ticketing system that is integrated, accessible and efficient, and applies to all forms of public transport. We would maintain free travel for those over 66.
  • Ensuring focus on suburban and hinterland commuter transport in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and other urban centres; working to provide greater reliability and frequency of services to move people out of cars.
  • Continuing the development of light rail and tram services where they are needed, along with the rollout of Bus Rapid Transit in specific urban centres.

Environmentally-friendly transport

  • Enhancing cycling infrastructure in our major cities and towns, and work on developing inter-urban cycleways and scenic greenways.
  • Introduce cycle-friendly traffic management systems in major city and town centres.
  • Increasing incentives and subsidies to purchase Electric Vehicles, including subsidies for the installation of charge points domestically. We would increase the availability of fast-charge points nationwide;
A Vision for Smart Cities
Rapid urbanisation creates opportunities and challenges. A smart city policy can provide a framework to re-think Ireland’s urban centres to make life better for Irish citizens.

It can help us to approach grand challenges such as environmental sustainability, the needs of an ageing population, and efficient transportation. We propose a holistic smart cities policy that aims to strengthen the infrastructure needed to inspire and promote multiple smart projects and initiatives.

This vision involves policies for supporting a range of actors, investing in infrastructure, research and development, and leveraging finance. It brings together government, the private sector and academia, to seek ways to use technology to bring about better lives and greater business opportunities.

This Irish smart cities policy builds on Irish strengths and seek to make Ireland outstanding in a global context. To make our vision a reality, we need to invest in infrastructure, education, smart governance, economic development.

Our priorities include:

Connected Cities

  • Increasing connectivity, particularly in broadband rollout.
  • Piloting free city wifi networks
  • Piloting an integrated, open-access, city-wide data sharing platform.
  • Establishing a network of ‘Smart City’ innovation hubs/centres throughout the country.
  • Educating users about the risks associated with data sharing and how to mitigate these.

Digital Cities

  • Supporting national digital literacy programmes targeting marginalised groups and older people
  • Updating national and local government’s information platforms.
  • Ensuring adequate copyright and IP legislation, within EU framework.
  • Enhancing the digital economy and society by maintaining and improving connectivity, use of internet, integration of digital tech, and digital public services.

Smart Tourism

  • Marketing Ireland’s cities as Smart Cities and locations to pilot smart city innovation.
  • Supporting tourism by ensuring Irish cities are easily accessible digitally, navigable, and have apps and Wi-Fi to support this.
  • Ensuring sufficient data regulation to protect citizens’ rights.
  • Establishing a national Smart Cities Pilot Fund to improve city services.
  • Establishing a National Smart Cities Annual Awards to recognise innovation.
Investing in Infrastructure
During the austerity years, capital spending was scaled back very heavily with little regard for the long-term effect of this. We are now facing the consequences of that lack of planning and investment.

Ireland has a huge infrastructure deficit. We see it at its worst in the housing emergency. But it’s also evident in electricity infrastructure, poor public transport, rural broadband, water infrastructure, and our lack of primary care centres. This has undermined our economy, our competitiveness, and balanced regional development.

If Ireland is to catch-up, it needs to invest. In particular, it needs to invest in capital projects that will save us money in the long-run. Yet, under current EU fiscal rules, Ireland is very confined in what it can do.

The EU Fiscal rules are damaging to Ireland’s interests. They place an artificial cap on what our country can spend to deal with our infrastructural deficits and social problems, and, critically, they prevent us spending now to save later.

Under present rules, the cost of anything Ireland allocates to infrastructure and other capital spending must be included in the calculations of the next four Budgets – rather than over the lifespan of the project. This seriously impedes the Government’s ability to make such investments and in particular to deal with the shortages in housing and serious transport deficits.

It means that Governments are far more likely to resort to using the private sector to address these challenges – a strategy that has singularly failed in respect of our Government’s approach to the housing crisis.

The amount set aside under the revised Capital Plan, despite recent improvements, is wholly inadequate. It is fundamentally unambitious for Ireland.

Investment as a percentage of GDP will remain very low under the plan. The amount to be spent in 2018 is similar to the amounts spent in some of the austerity years, when Ireland couldn’t borrow at affordable rates and had to rely on support from the EU and IMF.

The Social Democrats firmly believe that an unambitious plan is a recipe for failure. It will stunt Ireland’s progress and undermine our competitiveness. By failing to invest now, it will cost us more in the long run. We will see this through higher house prices, higher EU environmental fines, and higher healthcare costs.

We have been calling for some time for the Government to challenge EU Fiscal rules as they apply to capital spending. Nothing has happened. No major off-balance sheet financing for housing delivery has been arranged. No leeway has been allowed. Even when we sell a key state asset, e.g. the partial sale of AIB, we are not allowed to use the proceeds to invest in our country.

Meanwhile we borrow funds at historically low interest rates and in some cases enjoy negative yields from some investors. Yet we are not allowed to capitalise on this.

This approach runs counter to Ireland’s interests and counter to common sense.

The Government should be taking a hard-line approach. During the economic collapse in 2008 and the years that followed, we had a Fianna Fáil led Government that lacked any backbone to deal robustly with pressures from the EU.

As a result, Ireland was burdened with huge public debt that has limited our growth and competitiveness ever since. We see the same cowering approach from the present Fine Gael-led Government in respect of the fiscal rules.

It’s time the Government stood up for the people who elected them. How many more homeless people does it take for the Government to do something about this?

At the very least, the Government should adopt the approach suggested by IBEC which would allow a greater fiscal space allocation (€400m) in 2018 if the official GDP figures for 2015 are used in the calculation of fiscal space rather than the imputed figures currently used by the Government. We share the concerns of IBEC that the Government is not maximising capital expenditure at a time of huge infrastructure deficits. We want to use all of this additional fiscal space for capital expenditure.

In our alternative Budget, the Social Democrats would prioritise Capital spending, with over a billion euro of extra Capital spending. In addition to funds already committed in national plans, we would devote €500m approx. to extra social and affordable housing, and set aside capital funds for the roll-out of Sláintecare, rural renewal projects, retro-fitting home energy scheme, water, tourism, transport and broadband.

In addition to this we would use the extra flexibility in fiscal rules identified in IBEC’s pre-Budget submission to deliver even more funding for water infrastructure, transport, housing, and other capital projects.

Transport Infrastructure

Read our detailed proposals to cut the cost of living for everyone – a fair approach that leaves no one behind.

Building a Better Future

See our detailed plan to invest in public services and target key costs in family budgets.

Alternative Budget

Take a look at our Alternative Budget – Planning for our Future: An economy that works for all