The Government has announced details of a €116 billion plan for Ireland's development.
Ministers were this morning putting the finishing touches on the framework to guide how Ireland develops over the next two decades.
It includes tens of billions of euro in expenditure on capital projects.
The plan is being officially unveiled in Sligo this afternoon and you can watch it live here.
The Government says it's a plan to develop all of Ireland, especially the infrastructure in parts of rural Ireland where it is currently poor.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar claimed: "It marks a significant milestone in our country's development - the point at which we put the lost decade behind us, and move forward into a new decade of expansion."
Transport Minister Shane Ross said: "We're here in Sligo, because we want to send several messages - but the first one is this is not a Dublin-centric plan."
Minister for Rural Development Michael Ring believes that, despite claims to the contrary, it will be a plan that benefits rural Ireland:
“75% of the growth will be outside of Dublin,” he said. “50% will be outside of the five cities that we have.”
“It will be a plan, as I said earlier in the week, for both rural and urban Ireland.
“I am very happy with the plan and I know that the people of rural Ireland will be happy with the plan.”
The document outlines how Ireland should develop over the next 20 years and where best to direct major capital spending.
The plan will see a heavy focus on climate change, transport and health.
Worth noting in #Ireland2040 - 2045 marks the death of the petrol/diesel car. No NCT certs will be issued for vehicles that are not zero emissions from then
— Sean Defoe (@SeanDefoe) February 16, 2018
The launch is comprised of two distinct plans – the National Planning Framework, and the National Development Plan.
Together they form ‘Project Ireland 2040’ - the Government's vision for how to develop the country over the coming decades.
The measures include:
- A huge investment in climate change including plans to ban all non-zero emissions cars by 2030 and changing bus fleets to hybrids
- €500 million to incentivise people to become more climate friendly - upgrading their homes and cars
- Social housing for 112,000 households over the next decade
- A plan to see 75% of the growth to 2040 happen outside of Dublin
- An urban regeneration fund to the tune of €2bn to fund projects in Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway
- Rural development fund of €1bn will be aimed at towns and villages
- More than €8bn being put towards developing the roads network, including motorway upgrades and a dedicated Atlantic corridor to run from Donegal down to Waterford
- The plan aims to provide 200,000 new or replacement school places through a €8.4bn investment, and a €420 million digital strategy for schools
- An average of 50 large-scale school projects annually
- €1bn for Ireland's cultural institutions.
- A €2bn urban regeneration fund for the cities and a €1bn investment for smaller towns
- A new runway for Dublin Airport, and investment in Cork & Shannon Airports, Ireland West Airport Knock and smaller airports
- A goal of 2,600 extra acute hospital beds and 4,500 residential beds in community nursing homes.
- Planning to extend the LUAS to Bray, Finglas, Lucan, Poolbeg; completion of Metro Link by 2027, running from Sandyford to Swords via Dublin Airport; and a DART extension to towns such as Drogheda and Maynooth
- Bus Connects programme for Dublin, Cork and Galway with new corridors and ticketing plans
Plans for Dublin transport
Can’t wait to see if the roll out of rural broadband will be announced again today from Sligo - it was first announced in 2011 - procurement process started in 2014 and still no contractor appointed - its spin over delivery every time!
— Timmy Dooley TD (@timmydooley) February 16, 2018
There has been plenty of criticism of the plan in recent weeks with claims it leaves out rural Ireland by focusing on urban areas.
The Government says it needs to be practical - and not something for everyone in the audience.
Social protection Minister Regina Doherty. Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the Social Protection Minister said the plan will see 'regional balanced' investment throughout the country.
Minister Regina Doherty says it's not all about the capital:
Govt to announce details of €115bn infrastructure plans via @RTENewsNow@MichealLehane Eh the 2nd runway is under construction now & is already budgeted for!! Takes "announcements" to a whole new level! How many times now have Govt launched Metro North?? https://t.co/8tOqK46NcM
— Darragh O'Brien (@DarraghOBrienTD) February 16, 2018
Fianna Fáil has warned that rural Ireland needs to get a fair slice of the cake, with Roscommon-Galway TD Eugene Murphy warning parts of the country may be neglected:
“We hear people going on these shows; I don’t know whether they are supporters of government of whatever,” he said.
“But they are all clearly saying, ‘we can’t get broadband into every nook and cranny, we can’t spend money on the roads down there, we can’t put a trauma unit in Galway.’
“We are only looking for a fair share of the cake.
“I honestly believe the major error being made by Government is not injecting extra money into the west and midlands and north-west; I think that area would take off.”
Communications Minister Denis Naughten
However Communications Minister Denis Naughten has insisted that despite the criticism, he believes it will be good for rural Ireland.
“You will see that there is a very distinctive rural perspective in relation to this,” he said.
“The priority is to have most of the growth and most of the development outside the city of Dublin and to scatter that right throughout the regions. To take it out of the cities into our provincial towns and into our rural communities.
“It is a big challenge for us all to that between now and 2040 but this is going to really ser out the blueprint for that.”
— Social Democrats (@SocDems) February 16, 2018
The Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has described the launch of the new plan as a 'landmark day,' claiming it is proof the Irish economy has recovered:
“We are now in a position to say listen, we look forward with confidence; we look forward with sound public finances and we have a plan now linking both the National Planning Framework and the National Development Plan,” he said.
“Money is going to follow a strategic plan; a premise that is based on the wellbeing of our citizens.”
Reporting from Sean Defoe ...