Cross-Border project funding among initiatives to be presented to Cabinet

Plans to overhaul rules for Garda Reserve to bring numbers to more than 1,000 also up for consideration

The Government is to unveil a major allocation of new funding to projects under its Shared Island initiative.

The Narrow Water Bridge, the A5 motorway and Casement Park are expected to be among the projects to benefit from new allocations under the Coalition’s cross-Border funding initiative.

A memo will be brought to the Government on Tuesday by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlining the new initiatives, with a formal announcement to follow by all three Coalition party leaders in the afternoon.

Minister for Higher and Further Education Simon Harris will brief the Cabinet on a new training programme for prisoners convicted of minor crimes to be undertaken prior to their release. Programmes in retrofitting will be rolled out in the Midlands and Wheatfield prisons, with Mr Harris also set to update the Cabinet on plans to introduce apprenticeship programmes in prison starting out with chef courses, and painting and decorating.


The Government’s policy is aimed at driving down the numbers of people who leave prison only to return, with a lack of employment opportunities seen as a critical factor. The plans were developed by a prison education taskforce chaired by Mr Harris along with Minister of State James Browne.

Cabinet will also examine plans to overhaul rules governing the operation of the Garda Reserve as part of a push to bring numbers serving there to at least 1,000 by 2026.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will bring new Garda Reserve regulations to Cabinet on Tuesday, seeking approval from her fellow Ministers for revised rules which will provide more support and supervision for members of the reserve, as well as making the provision of training more efficient.

A recruitment campaign is expected to be in place in the coming weeks with a target of adding 650 members to the reserve’s current strength of 351, bringing it up to a minimum of 1,000 by 2026.

Other changes include ensuring reservists who attend court are considered to be on active duty, and allowing those who wish to work more than the standard 208 hours every year to do so.

Current regulations have been in place since 2006, with Ms McEntee of the view that they need to be updated to reflect current policing practices, and also to allow for more basic reforms such as using the current Leaving Cert marking system in applications to join the force.

Cabinet is also set to consider a national debt report brought forward by Minister for Finance Michael McGrath, and the annual report of the residential institutions’ redress board.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien will bring a progress update on the voids programme which sees local authorities bring vacant properties back into use, with €163 million spent since 2020. He will also update Ministers on the use of modern methods of construction in the social housing programme.

The Government will also discuss its response to a Seanad private members’ motion on the situation in Palestine brought forward by the upper house’s Civil Engagement group.

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Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times