Revised €165bn national infrastructure plan to include funding for extra roads

National Development Plan, to be published on Monday, will include more than 50 projects with a price tag of more than €100m

Tense negotiations over the level of investment in roads projects saw talks on the National Development Plan (NDP) go down to the wire, it is understood.

Government sources said significant investment in roads had been approved as part of the NDP process, which sources said had now been signed off.

The €165 billion plan, to be published on Monday, will include a swathe of heavy-spending schemes which will see more than 50 projects with a price tag of more than €100 million included.

Lengthy talks took place on Thursday evening between Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan over the balance between roads investment versus public transport, it is understood, before the deal was signed off.

The €165 billion in funding for the plan, which will be spent across the coming 10 years, was agreed amid pressure on Mr McGrath from Fianna Fáil backbenchers over spending on regional roads projects.

Government sources said extra road projects would be named in the NDP, and agreement had been reached during the week on infrastructure investment in both public transport and roads projects.

A number of TDs and Senators made their positions clear on roads and other infrastructural investments they feel are vital – and expect Mr McGrath to deliver on next week.

Clare TD Cathal Crowe, who raised the issue at the party's parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday, said the second phase of the northern distributor road between Clare and Limerick must be funded – even in the face of Green Party concerns about building infrastructure for fossil-fuel burning vehicles.

“We shouldn’t have a Green Party ideology preventing this from seeing the light of day,” he said.

Mr Crowe said he told Mr McGrath “this road is positive and its non-progression leaves the region in limbo”.

Mayo TD Dara Calleary, who has asked that the Western Rail Corridor as well as the second phase of the N26 and investment in broadband be included, said that investment in regional infrastructure was needed to help the regions capitalise on remote working trends. "We have to be sensible, realistic and fair, and we still do not have a proper road network in many parts of the regions, especially below national road level."

Only show in town

Senator Lisa Chambers, who is also arguing for investment in the Western Rail Corridor, said investment in roads should go ahead, with technologies decarbonising the vehicles on them.

“Roads are the only show in town for this particular part of the country. I think it’s premature to say we’re going to stop building roads. If the mode of transport is clean, roads aren’t the problem. The Greens’ roads argument needs to be reconsidered in the light of infrastructure deficiencies in the rest of Ireland.”

Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill said it was vital that Fianna Fáil be seen to deliver projects. "It's critical we're seen to justify our reason for going into government and that's to deliver for our constituencies."

Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív said he had argued that there were very few motorways west of the Shannon. “All public transport, freight, pleasure and tourism – with a few exceptions – depends on roads. We can decarbonise the fleet through hydrogen and electric [fuels].”