Irish state infrastructural investment: an analysis of past patterns, and an outline of a future integrated systems of systems evaluation methodology

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Moloney, Mary
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University College Cork
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The literature clearly links the quality and capacity of a country’s infrastructure to its economic growth and competitiveness. This thesis analyses the historic national and spatial distribution of investment by the Irish state in its physical networks (water, wastewater and roads) across the 34 local authorities and examines how Ireland is perceived internationally relative to its economic counterparts. An appraisal of the current status and shortcomings of Ireland’s infrastructure is undertaken using key stakeholders from foreign direct investment companies and national policymakers to identify Ireland's infrastructural gaps, along with current challenges in how the country is delivering infrastructure. The output of these interviews identified many issues with how infrastructure decision-making is currently undertaken. This led to an evaluation of how other countries are informing decision-making, and thus this thesis presents a framework of how and why Ireland should embrace a Systems of Systems (SoS) methodology approach to infrastructure decision-making going forward. In undertaking this study a number of other infrastructure challenges were identified: significant political interference in infrastructure decision-making and delivery the need for a national agency to remove the existing ‘silo’ type of mentality to infrastructure delivery how tax incentives can interfere with the market; and their significance. The two key infrastructure gaps identified during the interview process were: the need for government intervention in the rollout of sufficient communication capacity and at a competitive cost outside of Dublin; and the urgent need to address water quality and capacity with approximately 25% of the population currently being served by water of unacceptable quality. Despite considerable investment in its national infrastructure, Ireland’s infrastructure performance continues to trail behind its economic partners in the Eurozone and OECD. Ireland is projected to have the highest growth rate in the euro zone region in 2015 and 2016, albeit that it required a bailout in 2010, and, at the time of writing, is beginning to invest in its infrastructure networks again. This thesis proposes the development and implementation of a SoS approach for infrastructure decision-making which would be based on: existing spatial and capacity data of each of the constituent infrastructure networks; and scenario computation and analysis of alternative drivers eg. Demographic change, economic variability and demand/capacity constraints. The output from such an analysis would provide valuable evidence upon which policy makers and decision makers alike could rely, which has been lacking in historic investment decisions.
Ireland , Government capital investment policy , Sustainable infrastructure delivery , Infrastructure planning , Stakeholder Engagement , Physical networks - water, wastewater, roads and transportation, communications and energy , Spatial planning , Systems of systems
Moloney, M. 2015. Irish state infrastructural investment: an analysis of past patterns, and an outline of a future integrated systems of systems evaluation methodology. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.